Beef meat marketing in Japan

Beef + Lamb New Zealand plays to the health-conscious Japanese market to raise awareness of our grass-fed beef, and highlight it as inherently distinct from the competition.

New Zealand beef dishes up export dollars

New Zealand beef is carving out a tasty market niche in Japan, dishing up returns that should satisfy farmers and economists alike.

It’s our second most valuable export beef market. In 2009-10 we exported just under 35,000 tonnes of beef and co-products to Japan, worth $231 million. Japanese consumers now buy and eat three times as much New Zealand beef as they did in 2003. 

The rise in consumption reflects B+LNZ’s dedicated, long-term investment of time and resources – bolstered by a comprehensive marketing plan developed in conjunction with leading New Zealand meat companies operating in the Japanese market. And a canny eye for promotional opportunities.

Consumers taste the difference

New Zealand grass-fed beef is not as well known in Japan as either grain-fed US or Australian beef, so our marketing involves creating opportunities for people to taste the difference for themselves.

Cooking demonstrations, barbecues, seminars and restaurant promotions play a key part. Introducing a sensory element helps to clearly differentiate us from the competition and win new fans for New Zealand beef.

Getting the hospitality industry on side

Our beef marketing in Japan allows chefs to handle the product and familiarise themselves with cooking it. We held a Masterchef-style culinary challenge in Hiroshima recently, where competitors were given five hours to produce an entrée, main course and dessert from a mystery box of ingredients. New Zealand beef was, of course, the hero ingredient.

“This was my first chance to cook with New Zealand grass-fed beef,” said one of the winning chefs, 25-year-old Misato Matsuda, adding: “I found it very tender and easy to work with.”

Her teammate, 20-year-old Momoko Doi, was intrigued to find out more about the nutritional merits of grass-fed beef. “When I tried it, I found it very easy to eat and look forward to using the beef in my cooking in the future,” she said.

B+LNZ also holds seminars throughout Japan, targeting decision-makers from the distribution, retail and food service sectors, chefs and media.

The benefits

B+LNZ marketing activity, supported by our local trade partners, helps to increase – and sustain – New Zealand beef’s profile and presence in Japan. This work will bring long-term benefits, so farmers will continue to reap the dividends in the future.

Read the first issue of our market development newsletter, updating you on activities to promote beef and lamb across our key export markets.