July 11, 2013

Busy Ports & Cold Storage

Members of the Nebraska beef team proudly display beef from Nebraska Beef
from the Nippon Ham cold storage facility.
TOKYO, JAPAN (Thursday, July 11)—We went a bit further up the "food chain" this morning to see where American beef comes into Japan—and where it goes into storage before heading out into the marketplace.

The entire USMEF mission group–including both the beef team and the pork team—boarded a bus for a 30-minute trip to the Yokohama port on the Tokyo Bay, into which a large volume of beef and pork
The APL facility at Yokohama port.
arrives in containers on seagoing vessel.  We met with APL, a shipping and logistics company, which ships and transports a wide variety of products from foodstuffs to electronics to industrial items.

It takes about two to three days for American beef to move from the Midwest to the West Coast ports—and about two weeks to travel on ship before arriving in Yokohama.

APL prides itself on its technology, which includes sophisticated atmosphere control and monitoring inside refrigerated containers (reefers) to ensure product integrity and quality.  

Omaha-based Nebraska Beef
is a company/brand owned
by Nippon Ham.
Then we visited the largest cold storage facility in Japan, owned by Nippon Ham, which is the largest importer of beef in the nation. (Ito Ham is second.) 

Decked out in hardhats and parkas (hard to complain about the sub-zero cold when we've been dealing with 95-degree temperatures and stifling humidity!), we took a tour of this huge facility and saw beef from not only the U.S. and Australia, but also New Zealand, Chile, Mexico and other nations.  

We saw a number of products produced in Nebraska specifically (Lexington, Dakota City, etc.)  Interestingly, Nippon Ham owns a company (and a retail brand) called Nebraska Beef, which is headquartered in Omaha. 

The major takeaway from today's tours was a better understanding of the sheer volume of meat products coming into Japan—and the infrastructure in place to handle increased supply of both beef and pork from the U.S.

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