Japan Remains Vital for U.S. Beef

Japan Remains Vital for U.S. Beef

December 5, 2017

Tamara Heim, Director, IBIC, tamara@heimlivestock.com, 712-310-3203;
Dainna Smith, Director, IBIC iowafarm@gmail.com, 563-735-5486

2017 Japan Smith & Heim

Dainna Smith, Iowa beef farmer from Decorah, and Tamara Heim, Iowa beef farmer from Logan, represented Iowa beef farmers at an in-store retail promotion in Japan that was checkoff funded through USMEF efforts.

AMES, IA – The Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) recently embarked on a trade mission trip to Japan in November.  Japan remains a vital market as it ranks number one for exports of U.S. beef.  During the mission, led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, there were meetings with top import companies interested in U.S. beef.  Tamara Heim, beef farmer and IBIC elected director from Logan, and Dainna Smith, beef farmer and IBIC Director from Decorah, represented the interests of Iowa’s beef farmers.

“During meetings with import buyers, we learned the key to remaining in Japan is to be priced competitively with a quality product,” states Heim. “We need to understand the value of having a trade agreement in place to be able to do this.”  

The U.S. has competitors in the export beef market to Japan. Most of these competitors have trade agreements with Japan that provide significantly lower import tariffs. The U.S. trade agreement allows beef to maintain and grow the market presence in Japan.

Dainna Smith echoed Heim’s comments about the trip noting, “We heard from many key officials the trade agreement was imperative. Understanding the business climate and nurturing relationships is critical moving forward.  If we don’t have an agreement that allows us to promote and sell beef in this market, there are other countries, such as Australia, who will.”  

IBIC has a mission to expand beef’s position in the domestic and global marketplace. The national and state Beef Checkoff Programs are not allowed to influence or engage in policy activities. It is imperative for trade mission participants to have a firm understanding as it relates to market access and how to deliver promotions in the most efficient way. One of the goals of this mission is to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities in the international market for beef to meet this demand. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) data, the value of the international markets for beef add $277.31 value per head to a fed steer year to date.

During the trip, attendees visited a Wagyu farm operation. This allowed the attendees to see and learn first-hand how Wagyu beef is raised. The attendees also participated in an in-store promotion of U.S. beef at a local grocery store which allowed them to experience how consumers shop for their product.

“Japan has produced a high quality Wagyu product for many years. We need to continue to understand what our international customers want from us as farmers and work to meet the demand,” comments Smith on the farm operation in Japan. “

“It was exciting to see the Wagyu farm operation and how it compares to our domestic production.  Although there are differences, it is clear the Japanese want similar traits such as the high quality, safe, and affordable food as we do in the U.S.,” adds Heim.

The mission was coordinated by Iowa Economic Development Authority with representatives from the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Corn Promotion Board and several other private business professionals. Checkoff investments with U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) assisted with many of the in country meetings while promoting U.S. beef in these countries.  The mission was partially funded by the Iowa Beef Industry Council through the Iowa State Beef Checkoff Program.


About the Iowa Beef Industry Council:  The Iowa Beef Industry Council is funded by the $1-per-head National Beef Checkoff Program and the $0.50-per-head Iowa State Beef Checkoff.  Checkoff dollars are invested in beef promotion, consumer information, research, industry information and foreign market development, all with the purpose of strengthening beef demand.  For more information, visit www.iabeef.org.