Promotions teach people new ways to consume nuts, fruit
By RICHARD SMITH
For the Capital Press
TOKYO -- To increase business in Japan, U.S. nuts and dried fruit market players need to promote the full range of their products, a Japanese chef says.
"They need to show consumers here nuts and dried fruits can be used other than as ingredients for sweets, such as salads, and can also be used as flavorings," chef Ema Koeda said.
Dried fruits can also be used instead of sugar as a natural sweetener, Koeda said. "In the U.S., people use dried fruits in salads a lot, but not in Japan."
Japanese do not usually eat nuts straight, Koeda said.
"People only eat nuts in cakes, but I wanted to show a different way of using them," Koeda said.
So Koeda made a "trail mix" of nuts, flavoring them with Cajun spices. "In Japan, not many people know about spiced nuts," she said.
And to show their use in salads, Koeda also developed a "no-dressing chopped salad" recipe including almonds and raisins from California.
Koeda's recipe was distributed and her trail mix given out in samples at an American Nuts Cafe for consumers organized by the U.S. Embassy's Agricultural Trade Office July 22.
The American Peanut Council, American Pistachio Growers, Blue Diamond Almond Growers, California Fig Advisory Board, California Prune Board, Raisin Administrative Committee, California Walnut Commission, California Milk Advisory Board and U.S. Dairy Export Council also sponsored the event.
Brownies, candied apples, honey with nuts and even beer and bottled water from Hawaii were given out as samples or sold. Visitors could also buy U.S. ice cream and top it with nuts to their liking.
Invitations to the event appeared on the ATO's Japanese myfood.jp website. Organizers handed out Buddy McNutty stuffed dolls to the first 50 children.
Over 1,300 people attended. Organizers wanted to develop a venue where they could promote U.S. nuts and dried fruits, said ATO Tokyo director Steve Shnitzler.
"And doing it in a venue like this allows us to reach everyday consumers and give them a chance to sample," Shnitzler said.
The event also offered an opportunity to promote the myfood.jp website.
"After this is done, people who are visiting here can go online and see the recipes that we are using today," Shnitzler said.
Another participant, 46-year-old Miho Tsuzuki, runs a bakery school and often caters to similar occasions. This time, she made mini-cupcakes covered with either cranberry, pistachio or walnuts and "popcakes" (tiny round cakes on a stick).
"I thought these sweets I made are both cute and good-tasting. You rarely get both," Tsuzuki said.
Masumi Tsuda, 46, went to junior high school with Tsuzuki and receiving an invitation, brought along her friend, 45-year-old Mariko Otani.
Otani said she had the impression U.S. confectionery tastes overly sweet. "But here, they're just OK," she said.
Tsuda said she didn't eat nuts before, but recently a lot of Japanese eat dried fruits and nuts for health reasons.
"I eat them straight," she said.