American Lamb Makes Triumphant Return to Japan


After a 15-year absence, delicious American lamb is finally back in Japan. And the U.S. sheep industry is excited to have this very important export market open for business again.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation recently launched U.S. lamb’s return to the Japanese market with an educational seminar and tasting event in Tokyo. The event drew more than 200 chefs, importers, purveyors, trade media and other key food industry professionals.

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 also serves on the American Lamb Board and the USMEF Executive Committee.

The turnout at the seminar was extremely impressive, and the enthusiasm was even more so” said Ahart. “After a 15-year absence from the marketplace, seeing the amount of excitement and interest that was present in the room – both from the educational side, as well as when we proceeded to the presentation of products and the tasting – this event was truly something to be part of. I was completely blown away by the volume and genuineness of the interest expressed.”

The lucrative Japanese red meat market has been closed to U.S. lamb since 2003 when BSE was detected here in the United States. But with the reopening, it has lamb producers like Mike Green from Cohagen, Montana excited about the opportunities.

“It’s tough to get enough domestic lamb production the way it is but to be able to use some of those off cuts or those hard pieces to move but to have that extra market and be able to reach out into uncharted waters is huge” said Green.

With demand for lamb increasing in Japan, Sam Ortmann from Wolf Point, Montana hopes it translates into higher market prices for lambs like his here at home.

“The implications of exporting meat to a different source greatly helps our market in that it relieves product from coming back into our market and overloading it” said Ortmann.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation says that the strong reputation U.S. beef and pork have established in Japan will provide more positive momentum for U.S. lamb which is great news for U.S. lamb producers.

The USMEF event in Tokyo 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.

Source: MTN & Northern Ag Network

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