While on their trade misison visit, Scott Heater, Wapello, Iowa (left) and Dean Black of Somers, Iowa find a box of beef chuck rolls from the Dakota City, Neb., plant at the Nippon Butsuryu Center which is the largest cold storage facility in Japan.
Japanese beef importers are anxiously awaiting the announcement that Japan will increase the age limit on beef imports from 20 months to under 30 months of age. Iowa beef producers Dean Black, Somers, and Scott Heater, Wapello, were part of an Iowa Meat Trade Mission to Japan and South Korea, Dec. 8-15. "We visited with high level executives of the four major Japanese meat companies and they all look forward to increasing sales with U.S. beef suppliers. These Japanese companies are developing their marketing plans to expand U.S. beef sales, hopefully this coming spring," said Black. "With the acceptance of U.S. beef under 30 months of age, they expect increased purchases of up to 40% more chilled and frozen beef, especially beef tongue and short ribs which are favorites with the Japanese," added Heater. Limitations on age under 21 months have made it difficult to provide U.S. beef throughout the year. The U.S. Meat Export Federation estimates an increase in value of $19 per fed carcass with the increase in Japan's demand alone. For the first 9 months of the year, exports added an average of $213 to the value of a fed steer. As for South Korea, "They have lots of people to feed and are much more price sensitive. The importers are interested in buying more U.S. beef if the price is competitive," said Black. Black was part of a panel of speakers who shared his cattle production methods, a market outlook for the U.S. beef industry and animal care and handling methods with retail and foodservice representatives and importers. Black and Heater represent different areas of the beef checkoff program. Black, a cattle feeder, is one of Iowa's representatives on the national Cattlemen's Beef Board and Heater who raises seedstock, is a director on the Iowa Beef Industry Council. They were part of an Iowa trade team that included Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and representatives from the Iowa Department of Economic Authority, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Partial funding for the trade mission was provided by the $1-per-head beef checkoff.