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Premium lamb heads for Japan

Several hundred kilos of Norwegian lamb was flown to Japan this week, bound for exclusive restaurants. Lamb producers hope it will lead to a lucrative new market for the mountain-bred meat.

Several hundred kilos of Norwegian lamb was flown to Japan this week, bound for exclusive restaurants. Lamb producers hope it will lead to a lucrative new market for the mountain-bred meat.

Norwegian lamb is widely considered to be of top quality, and it's long been a traditional Sunday dinner in many homes during the autumn. Most local lamb graze in open terrain from May to September, before being rounded up for slaughter.

The meat is tender and tasty, and aims to suit the demanding Japanese market. "The Japanese (importers) have told us exactly what they want," said Christian Nielsen, of the gourmet export project called "Henriettes." The project is named after local food legend Henriette Schoenberg Erken.

Tore Ivar Slettemoen, manager of Henriettes, calls the Japanese market "the most demanding in the world," where consumers are willing to pay dearly for high-quality goods.

Henriettes has allied itself with 50 local sheep ranchers in the Troendelag counties. All have in turn alligned their animal husbandry methods and butchering procedures.

Japan's best chefs will test the lamb, and Slettemoen is optimistic more orders will come.

Henriettes secured NOK 970,000 (about USD 140,000) in state development funds to launch the export project.