Meat Traceability and Consumer Assurance in Japan
Japanese consumers are sophisticated, highly conscious of food quality and safety, and willing to pay for attributes they believe define a high-quality, safe product. A recent series of domestic and international food safety crises have elevated the importance of meat safety among Japanese consumers. The Japanese government and food industry are implementing new policies and systems intended to assure consumers that the food supply is safe and wholesome. Given that these systems tend to focus heavily on consumer assurance programs and traceability, this paper examines the demand for such programs from the perspective of Japanese meat importers, processors, and retailers. The paper discusses Japan's recent history of food safety crises, some of the consumer assurance programs already in use in retail outlets, the potential demand for assurance programs for imported products, and the ability of U.S. and other exporters to provide such assurances.