January 16, 2006


US beef exports to Japan dismal



The quantity of US beef entering Japan in the first month after an import ban was partially lifted, was less than 4 percent of that before the ban, according to the health ministry. This suggests that consumers are still cautious about US beef.


Japan imported about 745 tonnes of beef from the US during the one-month period from Dec 12, when Japan partially lifted the ban from two years ago, said the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.


Japan used to import about 20,000 tonnes of beef a month from the US before the import ban was imposed in December 2003, after the first US case of mad cow disease.


The government announced that it would allow import of US beef from cows aged up to 20 months old. Japan was the most lucrative overseas market for the US, worth US$1.4 billion before the ban.


American beef producers are saying that it will take at least three years to reach the pre-ban shipment levels.

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