July 28, 2006


Tyson to resume beef shipments to Japan soon



Tyson Foods Inc (TSN), the world's largest meat producer, will begin shipping beef to Japan within a week now that the Asian country has lifted its ban on US beef, a Tyson Foods spokesman said Thursday (Jul 27).


"We are pleased the market is reopening, and already received calls from Japanese customers who want to do business," Tyson Spokesman Gary Mickelson said. "We hope to begin shipping product to them within seven to 10 days."


Japan imposed the ban because of concerns about mad cow disease. After Japanese inspectors toured 35 facilities in the US to evaluate whether they comply with safeguards against the disease, the country announced Thursday it was lifting the ban.


Mickelson said Tyson's nine beef plants were among those inspected and they have been approved by the US Department of Agriculture to export to Japan.


He said it would be hard to quantify the potential for Tyson beef sales to Japan, especially since the country was restricting US imports to meat from cows under 20 months old. With the restriction, he said, only 10 percent of the cattle Tyson buys will qualify for the Japanese market.


"Sales will be limited," he said, adding that the company hopes Japan will consider allowing beef from cattle up to 30 months old.


US beef imports were initially blocked by Japan in Dec 2003. The ban was lifted late last year, only to be re-imposed in January. Last month, Japan agreed in principle to resume imports on condition that its inspectors tour US facilities.


Before the 2003 ban, Tyson's international beef sales totalled US$2.2 billion, with Japan accounting for 27 percent of that sum and South Korea for 15 percent. South Korea's ban remains in effect.


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