Japan Beef Trade 2018

Georgina Wilson and Mary Matthews

The CSU Global Japan program departed Australia on August 18, 2018 and landed in Tokyo that evening. The purpose of the trip is to gain an understating of the importance of the international beef industry, specifically Wagyu beef cattle production in Japan and the importance of the Australian and Japanese relationships in beef trade. The trip covered a range of agricultural, cultural and educational activities.

We spent the first four days in Tokyo visiting Shrines, markets, the Australian Embassy and numerous other cultural tourism sites, which gave us the opportunity to experience true Japanese culture and the city of Tokyo. From Tokyo we travelled south to Kobe, visiting the Kobe University and the university farm, with this component of the trip focusing more so on the Japanese beef industry, particularly black wagyu cattle. The trip to Kobe was on a bullet train which highlighted the Japanese ingenuity. Further travel around Kobe gave experiences of sharing tastings of Kobe Wagyu beef with Kobe university students and the Australian representative to meat and livestock Australia (MLA).

During our time at Kobe, we experienced a much slower Japanese culture, allowing for a different perspective on Japanese culture to be observed and explored. This part of the program contributed to my knowledge of the Japanese beef industry, being able to talk to and communicate with Japanese students of Kobe University, hearing of their studies and current research projects they are undertaking.

After Kobe, we flew to Sapporo before catching the train to Obihiro. It was here that we learnt about and experienced the Japanese beef industry the best. Visiting numerous beef farms including both black and brown wagyu farms, along with a dairy farm and a sheep farm. We also got to see some horticulture on the brown wagyu farm, examining the differences in fruit and vegetable production in Japan, in particular the size of some of their produce.

We were then off to Sapporo, we visited a meat processing facility, being toured around the processing floor and the different areas of processing. This provided us with the opportunity to see how beef products are processed at the plant, and the different types of products produced. We also visited the Australian Consulate, discussing with him our time in Japan and the Japanese beef industry, gaining an understanding of the knowledge regarding specific industry issues and areas of improvement for the future of Japanese beef production, along with exports and imports of beef products between Australia and Japan. During our time in Sapporo we visited Hokkido University and were given a tour around the campus, seeing the large scale of this university, along with a presentation of one students research project.

From this program, an understanding of the Japanese beef industry was gained, along with an awareness of Japanese culture enabling this to influence which contributed to the experiences gained throughout this program. The whole experience provided an overview of the production of Wagyu beef cattle and the processes that contribute to sale, processing, marketing and overseas trade of the industry. These experiences provided an academic and practical understanding of scale and work involved in the agricultural industry within Japan, which we couldn’t have gained in Australia.

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