Agriculture Director Greg Ibach is in Japan this week working with a Nebraska beef processor to reintroduce a premium beef brand popular there a decade ago. Representatives of Cargill Meat Solutions in Schuyler asked the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to help promote the availability of its Spencer Beef brand at events in Tokyo and Osaka. Spencer Beef was popular in Japan before U.S. beef exports were halted in December 2003 due to the finding of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United States.
Cargill is reintroducing Spencer Beef to the marketplace following Japan’s announcement in January that it would allow into the country imports of U.S. beef products from cattle under 30 months of age. Ibach said Spencer Beef only will be produced at Cargill’s Schuyler processing plant, and it will be branded as a Nebraska product in the Japanese marketplace.
“We are excited to partner with Cargill as they reintroduce this brand,” Ibach said. “They recognize that foreign markets place a high value on products that carry the Nebraska name. The events this week are part of NDA’s ongoing effort to brand Nebraska as a premier supplier of high quality agricultural goods to the international marketplace.”
Individuals invited to the seminars and receptions in Tokyo and Osaka include sales staff and key customers.
“Cargill is delighted to reintroduce Spencer Beef to the Japanese market, and we look forward to filling the needs of retail and foodservice customers, as well as consumers who have shown a preference for beef from the United States,” said Eddie Troutman, Cargill vice president for international beef sales. “We know Japanese consumers enjoy and trust American beef, and our goal is to provide a high quality, nutritious, flavorful and abundant supply exclusively from our Nebraska processing facility.”
Sales of fresh and frozen Nebraska beef to Japan annually averaged $340 million in the five years prior to the stop in exports in 2003. The Japanese market reopened to beef from cattle 20 months of age or younger in late 2005, and sales have steadily gained since that time. In 2012 Nebraska sold almost $113 million in fresh and frozen beef to Japan.
The Nebraska Beef Council has provided partial funding support for the events in Tokyo and Osaka.