Fukuoka Aims To Conquer U.s. Market With Sweet Locally Grown Strawberries

Fukuoka aims to conquer U.S. market with sweet locally grown strawberriesAmao, a high-end variety of strawberry grown here, has seen a huge surge in exports to Asian markets in recent years, particularly Hong Kong and Singapore, where it is a prized fruit.

The Fukuoka prefectural government is now gearing up to promote the strawberries in the vast U.S. market, taking aim first at New York, a city that commonly offers foods and cuisines from around the world.

The plan is part of a program to bolster local farmers’ competitiveness as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement is likely to see foreign farm products flooding the Japanese market in increasingly large numbers.

“Farmers should be more aggressive in the future,” said Fukuoka Governor Hiroshi Ogawa, pinning hopes on Amao as the top dog of the sales offensive.

Known for its relatively large size and high sugar content, Amao is No. 1 in terms of unit selling price in Japan. In Asian markets, where Amao has already established its name, it is traded at a price two to three times that in Japan.

The prefectural government plans to conduct market research on what kind of strawberries is preferred by consumers in New York and other major U.S. cities, as well as study the costs to distribute the Amao strawberry there.

Officials will request the funds for the research in its fiscal 2016 budget draft.

Prefectural officials will advise local farmers on possible exports based on the findings of the study in the United States.

In fiscal 2014, 85 tons of Amao were exported, primarily to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

Amao represents nearly half of the strawberries exported from Japan.