New Zealand meat exporters are rolling out a campaign to promote grass-fed beef in North Asia, in hopes that if consumers try it, they'll buy it in future.
Much of the beef eaten by Koreans and Japanese is grain-fed, but Meat and Wool New Zealand market development general manager Craig Finch said consumers who tried the grass-fed beef enjoyed the taste.
New Zealand grass-fed beef was tasted by hundreds of Korean people who attended Seoul Food, the largest food and beverage trade show in South Korea, earlier this month.
They were given Korean-style bulgogi, made from thinly sliced strips of the New Zealand beef, cooked in a slightly spicy sauce, at a stand in a pavilion also featuring Anzco Foods and Universal Beef Packers stands.
"With all three companies placing emphasis on grass-fed beef, we were able to reinforce the New Zealand meat industry's commitment to the supply of grass-fed beef to the Korean market," Mr Finch said.
The three companies worked to differentiate New Zealand grass-fed beef from the other meats, primarily grain-fed beef available in the market.
The industry board, which is rebranding in July as Beef and Lamb New Zealand Ltd, carried out a similar promotion in Japan.
"Japanese consumers are among the most health-conscious in the world," said Mr Finch, who noted the market was significantly affected when American beef exports were banned after BSE was discovered in the United States in 2003. Restrictions on beef from United States cattle under 21 months were lifted in July 2006.
"In early 2007 New Zealand launched a Japanese language slogan: 'New Zealand grass-fed beef, grass-reared is safe and delicious'.
"We aim to connect with consumers by using messages based around the clean, green natural environment that New Zealand beef is raised in," he said. "We emphasise that cattle are free ranging and eat their natural diet of grass, our product is safe, and that grass-fed production has health and nutritional benefits."
Mr Finch said the cost effective promotions were to piggyback existing events designed to reach New Zealand's target audiences, such as sports events for young children, and in-store tasting promotions.