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Rising Food Prices Shift Consumer Behavior in Japan, Boosting Demand for U.S. Pork Cuts

You can read the Japanese version here


Japan, known for its rich culinary heritage and preference for locally sourced ingredients, is experiencing a notable shift in consumer behavior influenced by international market dynamics. The sharp rise in food prices since 2019 has prompted Japanese consumers to seek cost-effective yet high-quality alternatives, leading to a burgeoning demand for underutilized U.S. pork cuts.


streets in japan

USMEF's Innovative Marketing Strategies

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has been pivotal in this transformation, particularly through its innovative marketing strategies. Taichi Uemura, USMEF's Japan Marketing Manager, has spearheaded initiatives to introduce U.S. pork loins to Japanese consumers in novel ways. Traditionally, Japanese households favor thinly sliced pork loins for popular dishes like shabu-shabu and tonkatsu. However, the USMEF's latest initiative aims to diversify this usage by promoting roast pork, a relatively unfamiliar preparation method in Japan due to the lack of household ovens.




Changes Experienced in Japan

 

Traditional

New

Consumer Behavior Changes

Traditional Behavior: Japanese consumers typically use thinly sliced pork loins for dishes such as shabu-shabu and tonkatsu.

 

New Behavior: With USMEF's marketing efforts, consumers are now learning to prepare roast pork using U.S. pork loin slices, adapting to a cooking method that doesn’t require ovens.

 

Awareness and Health Trends

Traditional Awareness: There has been a general preference for locally sourced protein sources.

 

New Awareness: There is increasing recognition of protein's importance, especially among the aging population and health-conscious younger generations. U.S. pork is now seen as a nutritious and high-quality alternative.

 

Economic Adaptations

Traditional Spending: Consumers have historically prioritized premium local ingredients despite higher costs

New Spending Habits: Due to rising food prices, consumers are adjusting their budgets, looking for cost-effective yet quality protein sources like U.S. pork.

 

Marketing and Social Media Influence

 

Traditional Media Consumption: Older generations rely on routine and familiar sources for meal inspiration.

New Media Consumption: Younger consumers, influenced by platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, are now more receptive to social media-driven culinary trends. USMEF leverages these platforms to promote U.S. pork, utilizing influencers to reach a broader audience.

 

Conclusion

The strategic efforts of USMEF have not only expanded the presence of U.S. pork in Japan but also transformed how Japanese consumers perceive and utilize these cuts. As food prices continue to rise, such innovative approaches are crucial in meeting consumer needs and sustaining market growth. This pork revolution in Japan exemplifies the dynamic interplay between global trade and local consumer behavior, paving the way for a more diversified and resilient culinary landscape.


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