Beef producers sell an estimated 3.2 million pounds during PNI
One year ago, on Feb. 1, 2013, Japan eased restrictions on U.S. beef exports in a market access development that has been very positive for regional beef producers. Taking advantage of the opportunity to sell more beef to Japan, state producer groups including the Idaho Beef Council, the Oregon Beef Council, and the Washington State Beef Commission joined together to work on market expansion efforts. They developed a marketing plan with the assistance of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) with the help of their staff in Denver and Tokyo.
The joint program, the Pacific Northwest Initiative (PNI), was conducted in the late spring and early summer of 2013. The results were impressive. A marketing campaign involving both grocery retail and food service sectors in Japan, facilitated through some very helpful Japanese importers and distributors, doubled the amount of U.S. beef entering the market during the promotion period. The beef came from exporters in the Pacific Northwest and has helped the bottom line for producers in the region. The total amount sold during the promotion period was estimated by USMEF at more than 3.2 million pounds.
Following the success of the 2013 Pacific Northwest Initiative, the three state beef councils reached out to producers for feedback. Greg Hanes from the USMEF spoke at an Oregon Beef Council meeting in December, and also to the attendees at the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association annual convention and also at their Cattlemen’s College. Cevin Jones, an Idaho Beef Council board member, who is also vice-chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils, went to a meeting of the Washington State Beef Commission to talk directly with that group about the Pacific Northwest Initiative. The three state groups sent representatives to Boise in January 2014 to review PNI results to date and to talk about a possible Phase II for the PNI project.
“This is a very exciting program, and it helps all producers to have increasing exports,” said Jones. “The results have been even better than we projected, and by working together, we are making a significant impact in the Japanese market.”