MDA Trade Mission in Japan

Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association (MSCA) Executive Director Kaitlyn Root and MSCA
member and cattle producer Mike Landuyt traveled to Japan Sept. 8-15 for the Minnesota Department of
Agriculture (MDA) Japan Trade Mission. MDA staff, Minnesota state representatives and other ag
leaders attended the trip as well.
Landuyt and Root worked to strengthen and expand relationships with Japanese consumers and
distributors, increase their understanding of business needs of foreign markets, establish useful contacts
and understand consumer behaviors in foreign markets during their time in Japan.
“Learning about how other cultures enjoy the beef we raise was an incredible experience,” says
Landuyt. “By exporting, we add value to cuts that are not popular in the U.S.”
The group had the opportunity to participate in a U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural
Trade Office and Foreign Agricultural Service briefing at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. During the
briefing, the trade mission group was able to learn about Japan’s political and economic overview. They
also were informed on Japan’s agricultural industry and Japanese consumer’s demand for beef.
Landuyt and Root toured popular retail stores including AEON Shinagawa Seaside. The tours
allowed the group to understand the difference between Japanese and American food preferences,
including which cuts of meat Japanese consumers prefer. This was important to see firsthand what
Japanese consumers are looking for when they shop for groceries.
Governor Tim Walz hosted two receptions in Japan which were attended by the trade mission
group. Representatives from the Minnesota Trade Office at the Department of Employment and Economic
Development were in attendance as well.
Japanese consumers enjoy trying new foods and keeping up with what is trending, so food trade
shows are popular in Japan. The trade mission group had the opportunity to attend the FoodStyle Japan
Food Service Trade Show in Osaka. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) displayed a large U.S.
meat booth at the trade show where consumers were able to taste test different cuts of beef and pork; learn
about sustainability in farming and ranching; and find recipes for beef and pork.
The USMEF utilizes trade shows like these to increase demand for U.S. beef, and they play into
what Japanese consumers enjoy. Beef tongue, chuck eye roll and outside skirt are popular choices for
Japanese consumers. New recipes are introduced at trade shows as well, such as beef-wrapped sushi.
Landuyt and Root enjoyed visiting with USMEF representatives to better understand the work
USMEF does to increase demand for U.S. beef.
Root says the trade mission was a success for the association, and she is grateful for the
opportunity to represent Minnesota cattle producers in Japan.
“I was able to meet with many leaders in the beef industry, as well as network with Minnesota
state representatives and Japanese consumers while on the trade mission,” she says. “I feel this trip was a
great way to learn about foreign markets and the Japanese culture, as well as to network with leaders in
the beef industry.”