The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is hosting a contingent of U.S. beef, pork, soybean and corn producers in Japan this week for a firsthand look at specific marketing activities for U.S. beef and pork.

Greg Hanes, USMEF assistant vice president for international marketing, explains that beef exports to Japan have been especially robust since the February regulatory change that made beef from U.S. cattle up to 30 months of age (rather than 21 months) eligible for this market.

Hanes adds, however, that Japan is easily the largest value market for U.S. pork exports, and these producers will have an opportunity to see how U.S. pork products – including many branded products – have gained traction with Japanese consumers. Meetings are scheduled with importers, distributors, retailers and others in Japan’s food trade to illustrate how funding from producer checkoff programs, combined with USDA Market Access Program (MAP) funds and promotional funds from companies within the market, help grow demand for U.S. beef and pork.

The state and national producer organizations represented by this group were also active in raising relief funds to help families in the Sendai region of Japan who were displaced by the tragic earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Some of the producers involved in leading this effort will have now an opportunity to visit the region, observe the area’s rebuilding effort and learn more details about the role U.S. agricultural organizations played in the region’s recovery.

The delegation includes producers from Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, Idaho, Ohio, Oregon and Arkansas.