International exports of Okinawan pork grow rapidly, and production of the agu brand increases 63 times
May 22, 2012 Maki Nagamine of Ryukyu Shimpo
Exports of Okinawan pork are increasing. According to the Livestock Division of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department of the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG), the annual amount of exports of Okinawan pork has increased threefold in the three years from fiscal 2009 to 2011. The amount of the agu variety of pork, a traditional breed of Ryukyuan pig, has increased about 63 times. The OPG ascertained that the sales strategy aimed at rich foreigners was successful. For the future, using lump-sum subsidies for Okinawa development, they plan to strengthen the brand power and promote sales of Okinawan meat both domestically and abroad.
The OPG conducted a project to promote international sales of Okinawan meat in 2010. It encouraged job creation for meat distributors, and developed overseas markets. As a result, the annual amount of exports of Okinawan pork in 2009, at 5123 kilograms (11294.1 pounds), went up to 16484 kilograms (36340.4 pounds) in 2011. The amount of the agu variety of pork exported surged from 58 kilograms (127.9 pounds) in 2009 to 3642 kilograms (8029.1 pounds) in 2011.
As a part of the project, Maruichi-meat established an overseas division in 2010, and has promoted international sales to wealthy customers. The export volume of pork in fiscal 2009 of about two tons grew to about 15 tons in fiscal 2011. The company is exporting their original brands of pork of Aged Agu Pork, Kariyushi Aged Pork, and Masan Pork. They aim to increase sales from about 13 million yen in fiscal 2011 to 200 million yen in fiscal 2017. The president of the company, Zenei Yogi, said, “From now on, it is going to be very important to sustain the brand name. If we let the brand image slip, it will undermine the government’s efforts. I hope that the OPG registers a trademark and facilitates brand traceability.”
The OPG allocated 116.7 million yen to promote the domestic and international sales of Okinawan brand meat in fiscal 2012 including projects using the lump-sum subsidy. It plans to register a trademark of the family brand the Agu and to run a storage facility for Okinawan meat as a logistics base in Hong Kong, which is the main hub for exports.
Katsuya Namihira , the chief of the Livestock Division, said, “Wealthy people in Hong Kong see Japan, and Okinawa as being safe and secure. I’d like to support distributors through projects using this grant.”
(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)
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