Japan Increases Imports Of US Beef

JAPAN - Japanese beef imports remain strong to date in 2011, with the USA in particular increasing shipments, according to Mark Zieg from the Meat Division of Bord Bia – Irish Food Board.
calendar icon 7 November 2011
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According to USDA forecasts, Japan will remain the world’s second largest global importer of beef in 2011 at 725,000 tonnes. Russia is the world’s leading importer is expected to import 1.05 million tonnes with South Korea in third position at 410,000 tonnes.

According to GTIS, Australia exported 224,000 tonnes to Japan between January and June 2011.

While this represents a 15,500 tonne decline on equivalent 2010 figures the US have increased their exports to Japan by 42 per cent to 95,200 tonnes over the same period.

The Japanese Government has indicated this week that it is preparing to engage with the US over freer trade access for US beef, currently limited to cattle less than 20 months of age under BSE risk protocols.

An agreement by Japan to broaden US supply to include cattle up to 30 months of age would have significant competitive implications for Australian beef exporters. Reuters reported earlier this week that Japan's Health Ministry had now confirmed it would ask the nation’s Food Safety Commission to review import rules currently imposed on US beef.

A decline in Japanese domestic beef production following April’s tsunami and nuclear contamination event is seen as a catalyst for the review.

In 2010, US beef exports to Japan were estimated at 160,000 tonnes, compared to 417,000 tonnes in 2003. At that time, the US and Australia typically shared about 48 per cent of Japan’s total beef imports. US trade sources predict that with a relaxation in import conditions, that US beef exports to Japan in 2011 could be around 215,000 tonnes.

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