OTA develops strong network in Japan

News from OTA's Organic Export Program

OTA co-hosted an all organic BBQ at the U.S. Consular General Allen Greenberg’s residence in Kobe, Japan. A first of its kind, the luncheon brought together key industry players and thought leaders from Japan’s growing organic industry. Monique Marez, OTA’s Associate Director for International Trade, and Melody Meyer, a member of OTA Board of Directors, led an information session and discussion on U.S. trends, and ways to import more USDA certified products. 

The organic luncheon hosted at Consul General Greenberg’s home was a follow-up event to the OTA seminar led in Japan in November 2014. Consul General Greenburg was so impressed by the seminar that he offered to host an organic luncheon in his home to keep industry engaged and have another opportunity to experience and enjoy USDA certified organic products. The luncheon also served as an opportunity to present the latest organic industry trends and highlight hot items for importers.

The luncheon was a major success. All guests who received an invitation said yes, and all attended the event. That is 100 percent intended participation! Some importers explained it was the first time they had ever met some of their retail partners in person. Several importers approached Marez with questions on how to find more U.S. organic products. In addition, importers donated product for the luncheon and to have on display. Moreover, retailers were striking deals with importers on site!

OTA also led an organic promotion seminar at Aeon, the number one retailer in Japan. More than 200 employees were trained by Marez and Meyer over two sessions. Trainees included those responsible for marketing, merchandising, packaging, sourcing, store management, and product development. In addition, the president and vice president of the Aeon Top Valu line participated in the training.

OTA shared information on the U.S. organic industry, trends, how to sell USDA certified organic product to their customers, and how to answer challenging questions customers ask at the checkout. The results from the training are clear: participants left with a wealth of knowledge on how to better position organic products to a discerning customer. 

OTA was back in Japan in October for a first-of-its-kind consumer-facing promotion dubbed “Organic Day.” The event was to include a seminar on how an organic diet contributes to vitality, a yoga class, a market update, press event, and an all organic Halloween party and art contest! Taking place at the Space O in Omotesando Hills, this promotion was set to have maximum exposure and impact in Tokyo.

As part of this activity, several USDA certified organic companies and their Japanese partners were to set up displays at Space O, and participate in a week-long in-store retail promotion. //