The College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University is Oregon's principal source of knowledge relating to agricultural and food systems, and a major source of knowledge regarding environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences, and rural economies and communities worldwide. The College provides undergraduate and graduate education leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and extended education programs throughout Oregon and beyond. Its research programs create knowledge to solve problems and to build a knowledge base for the future. It is a source of information and expertise in integrating and applying knowledge with benefits that are felt in domestic and international settings.
Oregon Governor’s Trade Mission to Asia
We visited several key partners in Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo and Toyama Prefecture (Oregon’s sister state) to share our research lines with the goal of potential collaborations and cross cultural research projects with private companies and research institutions alike. Assessing the opinions of both Asian and U.S. consumer segments using Oregon products such as tea, hazelnut oil or berries highlighted the benefits of in-market sensory evaluation to understand consumer drivers of liking. This testing also demonstrated our ability to offer similar services to our partners in South Korea and Japan.
Having just conducted consumer sensory evaluations and market research for product success in Portland at the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center with Oregon made products and products from Asia, we replicated these consumer evaluations in Korea with Oregon Barley Tea developed by OSU professor Patrick Hayes and post-doc Mariona Martinez. Barley tea is a commonly consumed beverage in Asia, often used in place of drinking water. In collaboration with Dr. Seo-Jin Chung at the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul, we were able to replicate these evaluations that had been conducted in Portland only days prior to leaving for the trade mission. Interestingly, the Oregon Barley Tea was very well liked by those we tested in Korea. The Oregon product had a higher purchase appeal, was found to be more drinkable, satisfying and complex. This type of project and process creates an entryway for other Oregon products and companies to trial their food items prior to an international launch.
In Japan, we had several important meetings in both Tokyo and Toyama Prefecture. We tested Oregon grown green tea and Japanese Sencha green tea with several sets of consumers at both the Toyama Food Research Institute and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, also probing drivers of liking, purchase appeal, and drinkability. While there were no significant difference in Overall Liking, the Oregon green tea was preferred by many of the Japanese consumers tested. Additionally, the liking scores increased once the product information was revealed, suggesting the “Oregon brand” has high product appeal in Japan. This was a sentiment heard many times during our travels. Oregon, and especially Portland, is well known and of interest to many Japanese consumers. Testing product liking, packaging and labeling appeal in-market prior to launch can be greatly beneficial to product success in international markets and I believe we have formed relationships that will facilitate this effort. With the great help of Lisa Murakami, we had a strong participation rate at the Toyama Food Research Institute with many people attending the seminar and sensory evaluations.
After our visit with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (産業技術総合研究所, Sangyō Gijutsu Sōgō Kenkyū-sho), or AIST, a Japanese research facility headquartered in Tokyo, Dr. Tatsu Kobayakawa wrote,
Thank you for your hard work last Friday.
I think the face-to-face meeting, not online, was very substantial. After all, it is very important to meet in person.
It was also a great experience for me to actually make tea and do the liking test.
I was able to realize that it is surely possible for us to obtain data in Japan by watching this test.
Thank you very much for the wonderful gifts.
I am not trying to flatter you, but I love the sense of design of the pot holders and coasters.
The hazelnuts and chocolates were also delicious. The most important outcome of this meeting might be that I fell in love with Oregon (!?).
Best wishes to you all.
1.1. Build on an existing relationship with both the Toyama Food Research Institute and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (産業技術総合研究所, Sangyō Gijutsu Sōgō Kenkyū-sho), and conduct product sensory evaluations in Tokyo, Tsukuba and Toyama Prefecture. I facilitated an exchange of ideas by conducting workshops for TFRI and AIST discussing (1) the capabilities of the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center and Department of Food Science as well as the importance of sensory & consumer research on foreign product launches both for products being exported from the U.S. and also for potential foreign imports utilizing U.S. ingredients, (2) recent product research with the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon and their successful hazelnut oil/butter/spread category launch with the help of the Food Innovation Center, (3) research with Northwest specialty crops such as pears, Oregon grown blueberries, Bigleaf maple syrup, seafood, apples, Dulse seaweed and tea (4) U.S. plant based food trends and other sectors of expressed interest noted in a prior meeting with Toyama Food Research Institute. Additionally, I presented a seminar to the Taste and Aroma Research Institute in Tokyo to share ideas, learn their capabilities and develop future consumer testing collaborations and capabilities in Japan. I also participated in a meeting with the ASAHI Agency where we discussed potential future collaborations conducting sensory evaluations and capturing consumer insights about blueberry products at trade shows. Finally, it would be an understatement not to mention my extreme reliance on and collaboration with Food Scientist Noriko Misawa, who translated all the scientific technical terms and was invaluable in navigating the Japanese language, culture, science and customs necessary for these types of meetings and scientific evaluations. My meetings with the Toyama Food Research Institute, AIST, and Batabata tea villagers would not have succeeded without her ability to translate across cultures and countries.
2. Strengthen relationships with companies and researchers in South Korea. We now better understand emerging trends in Japan and South Korea, one such consumer insight being the importance of expiration dates to Korean consumers. Those in Korea will look at the expiration date of a product before even checking the price, signaling the importance of food safety and product freshness. I discussed our FIC capabilities and how our team can engage in development opportunities with food and ag companies, leveraging current research partners at the prestigious Ewha Women's University and the Korean Society of Food Science and Technology, well known in the U.S. for its innovative research. Consumer testing was conducted with Oregon Barley Tea vs. Korean Barley tea where it was determined the Oregon product was preferred. Additionally, I was able to meet with the Korean CEO of Portland’s Smith Tea Company, to discuss expanding recently proposed consumer research in Portland with a new line of Korean Smith Tea hand lotions.
Sensory evaluation participant rating Oregon specialty green tea vs. Japanese specialty green tea.
Sensory evaluation participant at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba City, Japan
Participants using Compusense sensory evaluation software on smartphones to evaluate Oregon products at the Toyama Food Research Institute in Oregon’s sister state, Toyama Prefecture, Japan.
Kate Brown with the delegation and Governor of Toyama Prefecture.
Theresa Yoshioka, from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and others in front of the Smith Tea (Portland company) pop-up in Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. Their product had lots of interests from the Japanese market.