Consumer Contest in Japan for US Pork Recipes

by 5m Editor
16 September 2011, at 9:53am

JAPAN & US - To promote the use of US pork butt for traditional Japanese cooking, the US Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) Japan office recently conducted a US pork recipe contest for consumers.

In Japan, pork butt is more commonly used in home cooking than in restaurant dishes. So by encouraging everyday consumers to develop and showcase original pork butt recipes, this contest was aimed at building awareness of the pork butt and allowing home-makers to share fresh ideas with their fellow consumers. To raise the profile of the recipe contest, USMEF used advertorials in the Asahi newspaper and lifestyle magazine Orange Page, as well as online ads on the food and lifestyle web site, Bon Marche.

Support for the contest was provided by the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

From more than 1,000 applications, USMEF selected one grand prize winner to receive a one-year supply of US pork. The winning recipe was American pork butt with plum wine and Japanese herbs.

Grand prize winner, Yukari Harada, said: "Plum wine is quite popular in Japan, and my mother used to make it herself. I still clearly remember the taste of my mother's plum wine, which was given by a small one-bite cup as a medicine when I had a stomach ache, and I really loved it. My mother also used her plum wine for cooking, which inspired me to develop my own plum wine recipe using US pork butt."

An American Pork Ambassador Prize was also awarded, with the winner receiving an invitation to participate in the US pork butt cooking demonstration at the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference in November.

The winning recipe for the American Pork Ambassador Prize was for hitsu-mabushi – a dish traditionally made with grilled eel, rice and Japanese herbs.

Prize winner, Kaori Ishibashi, said: "Hitsu-mabushi is a very popular item in my home area of Aichi prefecture. My husband likes hitsu-mabushi very much, but eel is expensive and too high in cholesterol for his health. So I always prepare hitsu-mabushi with American pork butt, and serve it to my family about once a week."

American pork butt with plum wine (left) and hitsu-mabushi claimed top prizes

The chief judge of the contest was Tenkichi-Kachan, one of Japan's most famous and influential cooking bloggers with a following of about 120,000 readers per day. Tenkichi-Kachan often features US pork recipes on her blog and discusses the positive attributes of US pork products.

The prize-winners, along with nine other recipes selected from the contest entries, will be featured in newspaper and magazine ads in October to further promote creative uses of US pork butt for Japanese home cooking.

Beginning late last year, USMEF launched a global initiative aimed at expanding marketing opportunities and increasing consumer awareness of the pork butt – a cut that grades very well in terms of tenderness, juiciness and flavour but is often under-utilised and under-represented in the retail meat case.

USMEF Senior Marketing Director, Takemichi Yamashoji, explained: "This recipe contest is an excellent way of raising consumer interest in the pork butt. It is especially gratifying to see our contest winners tout US pork butt as a healthy and affordable alternative for traditional Japanese cooking."

Japan is perennially the leading value market for US pork exports, and 2011 is shaping up to be another outstanding year. Exports to Japan in 2011 (including variety meat) have already broken the $1 billion mark for the seventh consecutive year and are on pace to exceed last year's export value record of $1.65 billion. Through July, exports totalled 287,466 metric tons (633.8 million pounds) valued at $1.1 billion – an increase of 11 per cent in volume and 14 per cent in value over last year.