Gifu Pref. to bring Hida beef to France

GIFU - Aiming to export its signature Hida beef to France, Gifu Prefecture is researching the market in that country and plans to start setting up export routes next fiscal year, sources said.

After making an entry into France, which already has friendly ties with the prefecture, the Gifu prefectural government hopes to expand its exports to other European countries and make Hida beef a global brand.

The export market for Hida beef has been growing in Asia. In fiscal 2008, the prefecture exported about 330 kilograms to Hong Kong, while about 2,000 kilograms of the meat was exported to Singapore and Thailand last fiscal year.

Beef trade between Japan and the European Union resumed last year after being halted due to the effects of mad cow disease. The prefecture, which has a local exchange agreement with the French Embassy in Tokyo, chose France as the focus of Hida beef's Europe campaign.

A tasting event featuring Hida beef's shimofuri marbled meat was held during a reception at the embassy in November, and the beef was praised by guests as soft and delicious. The event apparently gave prefectural officials a confidence boost for the exports to France.

Rival beef brands, such as Omi beef from Shiga Prefecture and Joshu-wagyu beef from Gunma Prefecture, are also making moves to expand their business to Europe.

"I'd like to open a prefectural specialty shop in Paris and spread Hida beef to Europe," Gifu Gov. Hajime Furuta said

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