Japanese customers savored restaurant dining created with quality American food ingredients as part of the first-ever “Taste of America” promotion hosted this month by the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Tokyo.
The goal of the project gave restaurateurs an opportunity to express their zeal for American food and to increase the presence of U.S. products in the Japanese restaurant business. Fifty-five restaurants featured delectable dishes using U.S. food and ingredients, allowing restaurateurs and diners alike to appreciate the diversity of American food products. The participating restaurants were diverse, ranging from simple burger shops to fine dining establishments, and featuring not only American-style food, but Japanese, Chinese and Italian cuisine as well. The commonality was that all of the restaurants used American ingredients. Each restaurant used at least two U.S. vegetables and two other U.S. ingredients of food such as sausages and craft beer.
“Taste of America” was supported by several U.S. organizations including the California Ag Export Council, Western Growers Association, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, the Florida Department of Citrus, many of which are cooperating organizations of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
The ATO worked with these organizations to help familiarize the restaurateurs with U.S. products available in Japan and to help them locate suppliers and ingredients. The ATO developed a food and ingredient list and shared them with the owners and chefs of the restaurants.
Japan remains a top export market for U.S. food and agricultural products. The United States is recognized for being a reliable supplier of high quality vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meats, and processed foods. U.S. agricultural exports to Japan are estimated at $14 billion in fiscal year 2011.
USDA recently forecast fiscal year 2011 and 2012 exports will reach a record $137 billion, $22 billion higher than the previous record set in 2008 and $28 billion above 2010. Strong agricultural exports contribute to the positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, and boost economic growth.