Idaho producers tout beef in Japan, Taiwan


By Richard Smith, Capital Press

May 13, 2019


TOKYO Idaho "finger steaks" are going to be a big thing in Japan.


The 2- to 3-inch-long strip of sirloin steak is battered and deep-fried and served with french fries. The dish purportedly originated in a Boise restaurant.


"We are pushing that here," said Idaho Beef Council board member Trish Dowton.


The U.S. Meat Export Federation introduced the fare at the recent FOODEX international food fair, held every year in Chiba City neighboring the Japanese capital, MEF international marketing vice president Greg Hanes said.


"It is being used here in izakaya (Japanese-style bar/restaurants) chains," Hanes said.


Hanes, who will assume the position of Cattlemen's Beef Board CEO next month, was leading an MEF beef growers tour that visited Taiwan May 6-8 and Japan the following two days.


Dowton, who runs Dowton 3X Ranch in Ellis with her husband, Stan, formed the visitors' Idaho contingent with Cattlemen's Beef Board vice chairman Jared Brackett.


The Idahoans said they felt U.S. beef's position is currently secure in the markets of the countries they visited, but they are anxious for progress on a new trade agreement with Japan.


With Japan's tariffs continuing their yearly fall for beef from Australia, Canada and New Zealand which are among the signatory countries to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership U.S. beef's price point will eventually be too high for it to effectively compete here.


"I don't know if the Trump administration realized it was a mistake to get out of the TPP," Dowton said of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which originally included 12 Pacific Rim countries.


Japanese importers see...