At the beginning of May, Minnesota Beef Council representatives, Jeri Hanson and Duane Munsterteiger, along with Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association representatives, Ashley Kohls and Mark Pankonin, traveled to Taiwan and Japan for a trade mission trip. Lucky for us, Ashley Kohls documented their many exciting adventures of their day to day activities. From traveling to different markets, to eating at traditional restaurants, we’re here to give you a glimpse into the highlights of their trip!
Their travels began in Taiwan, where they toured 15 different stores, markets and restaurants. Taiwanese people have very specific beef preferences. Based on 2018 import data, approximately 48% of consumers prefer grass-finished and 52% prefer grain-finished. Yet, the beef market in Taiwan is aggressive and progressive. They are consistently competing with Japan and China for purchasing – which has allowed them to use underutilized cuts and find ways to incorporate them into traditional Taiwan cuisine. Mark Pankonin says, “I enjoyed opening my eyes to the way their culture utilizes the various cuts and organs that our consumer would find unappealing for consumption.”
From there, they continued their travels in Japan. Japanese consumers are eating less Wagyu beef for leaner beef products. Consumers purchase prime U.S. beef because they believe it to be leaner! During this portion of the trip, the experiences that they got the chance to be a part of were a little different. While they still had the chance to check out popular restaurants in the areas they were in, their time was predominately focused on demonstrations and consumer events! The consumer events included cooking demonstrations utilizing U.S. beef, and each of the instructors had a loyal following both in-person and on social media!
Their visits to two different Asian markets gave them perspective into what we can continue to do in the future to expand the reach of U.S. beef into these markets.
Jeri Hanson says, “I think the biggest takeaway that I saw as how very much they do like our corn-fed beef and especially, all the variety meats – heart, tongue, intestines, etc.”
Although they were there on a mission, they got the opportunity to enjoy many different activities and experiences while they were there. There were a few things that they learned that surprised them.
For Duane, it was “how both cultures that we visited really appreciated us as beef producers.”
They got the opportunity to attend cooking demonstrations and interact with the consumers that were there to learn more about how to prepare U.S. beef. “There is now a grilling club in Japan that enjoys learned the skills of grilling steaks!”
It seems as though fun was had by all that went on the trip. Hanson says, “It is tough to single out one thing as my favorite part of the trip – it was an overall amazing experience! From the camaraderie amongst all participants, to the reception we received wherever we went.” All in all, it was a trip of a lifetime for them, and they would like to thank all that were involved in allowing them this opportunity!