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Japanese Farmers Turn to Overseas Luxury Markets

26, March 2009

The beef used in the famously high-priced 175 USD hamburgers served in New York last year was not American ? It was Japanese. The luxury burgers featured Japanese Kobe beef - to complement Matsudake mushrooms, foie gras and Gruyere cheese. Japanese Kobe beef is well known as the highest quality beef in the world. In addition to carefully managed breeding practices, Kobe beef producers also massage their livestock and have even been known to play music for the animals to keep stress levels low - all in the effort to produce the world's best tastes meat.

In Japan, different regions are known for various types of specialty food products. Kobe beef, Hokkaido Salmon, and Niigata rice are just a few of the better known examples. Since 2000, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, along with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), local governments and farmer's groups such as Japan Agriculture, have worked together to popularize Japanese food products abroad. Luxury food products have been a main focus of these efforts.

Results have been particularly strong in Asian countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, where publicity efforts originally focused. Particularly in China, where food safety is an issue, Japanese agricultural products command a high level of popularity due to their safety and luxurious qualities.. They are extremely popular among affluent Chinese consumers.

Now publicity efforts are being stepped up in Europe and other western markets too. For example Japan Agriculture is currently attempting to popularize Japanese apples in Europe. Several locations have also been set up in Germany to hold food tasting forums for Japanese fruit and produce. Early results show that, apple juice from Aomori Northern Japan and rice from Japan's Sea of Japan coast are popular with European food connoisseurs.

March 20, 2009 Chuo Nippo

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