Belying some early consumer polling, Japanese consumers apparently are reaching out to U.S. beef. Five metric tons of U.S. beef that went on sale at three Costco stores in the Tokyo area on Wednesday sold out in the first day, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reports. The U.S. beef products were the first to sell in Japan since January.

USMEF says the Costco reintroduction demonstrates consumers are open to factual information and willing to give the product a try. Japanese shoppers lined up for tastes of U.S. beef being sampled at the store, and many purchased multiple packs of the product.

USMEF introduced its "We Care" promotion on Aug. 4, designed to demonstrate the U.S. beef industry's assurance program for food safety, quality and taste; and re-establish the high-quality image of U.S. beef previously held by the Japanese. The campaign includes ads in major papers, a Web site (wecare.jp/), retail and foodservice promotions, interviews and PR events. A major media conference, seminars and "We Care" barbecues are to follow.
-- Joe Roybal