US meatpacking giant Smithfield Packing Co is taking its branding strategy abroad, as the first US name to appear on fresh pork in Japan.

Through its strategic partner, Sumitomo Corporation, Smithfield Packing has reached an agreement with Ito Yokado Co. the second-largest food retail chain in Japan, to sell Smithfield-branded fresh pork throughout the country in 181 stores. The Ito Yokado Group is a major retailing force in Japan with sales of more than US$23bn.

Lewis R. Little, president and COO of Smithfield Packing, said: “After the incidents of livestock disease in Japan and neighbouring Taiwan, Japanese consumers must feel confident about the source of supply.

“Our vertical integration model provides for traceability, or the ability to furnish as much information as possible about a finished pork product’s origins.”

Little added that vertical integration was designed to deliver quality and consistency. “These valuable competitive advantages are the reasons our sales have grown at double-digit rates in Japan for the last three years,” he said.