|Dale Spencer inspects beef on display at the Seiyu supermarket in Tokyo.|
During a one-hour discussion in the Sumikin Bussan offices today, their representatives spoke enthusiastically about U.S. beef. They also agreed with what we heard from USMEF officials: It's
|"Tim" (left) and "Lucky" of Sumikin Bussan|
talk about their imports of U.S. beef into Japan.
The importers were especially interested to hear from the U.S. team about projections for the U.S. corn crop—both production and price. They said they were looking for "what is true", but even our group couldn't agree on what will or might happen.
If the record corn acres and record harvests (14 billion) are to be believed, then corn prices could fall as much as $2, leading to lower feed costs and more competitive beef prices.
But then again, maybe not...
After this meeting, we visited a Seiyu store, which is Wal-Mart's brand presence in Japan. (And yes, they do wear blue vests!) We met the person responsible for buying beef not only for this store, but for all 372 Seiyu stores in Japan. (Obviously a man we want on our side...) He, too, is optimistic about the potential for U.S. beef in his stores, seeing it as a price-competitive, high-quality option for his customers.
|Tim Scheer (right) talks with the beef buyer for|
Seiyu stores (left), while an Oregon beef producer
Beef displays in Japan are interesting in that the portions are smaller and very consistent in terms of size. U.S. beef is being displayed at the Seiyu store we visited, some with the "We Care" sticker, which is part of the USMEF campaign.
We also saw Wagyu beef on display—highly marbled beef that is typically higher priced than U.S. product.
We observed Japanese consumers carefully perusing the beef products on display, inspecting several for appearance, quality, price, etc. Not much different than American grocery shoppers.
|Japanese Wagyu beef is highly marbled.|