Last week the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) launched U.S. lamb’s return to the Japanese market with an educational seminar and tasting event in Tokyo that attracted more than 200 chefs, importers, purveyors, trade media and other key food industry professionals.
Following the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States in December 2003, Japan was closed to U.S. lamb for nearly 15 years before reopening in July of this year. The USMEF event was designed to showcase the unique flavor profile and other positive attributes of U.S. lamb, introduce menu concepts featuring a variety of lamb cuts and connect U.S. suppliers with prospective customers.
Greg Ahart, vice president of sales for Superior Farms, participated in the event and was impressed with the strong interest and enthusiasm shown for U.S. lamb. Ahart, who also serves on the American Lamb Board and the USMEF Executive Committee, notes that in addition to U.S. lamb cuts that will be enjoyed at high-end hotels and restaurants in Japan, items such as lamb shank and Denver ribs may also gain traction with Japanese consumers.