August 8, 2011


Japan's beef retailers step up quality checks



Japan's major retailers are boosting their own inspection process to assure consumers of beef safety with four prefectures now being subjected to the government's ban on cattle movements with the aftermath of the radioactive contamination incident.


In July, the retail giant Aeon commenced third-party testing of all Japanese beef sold under its private brand. Another leading retailer Ito-Yokado also announced this week that it will only sell beef that has passed inspection by their suppliers. Several other supermarkets are expected to follow similar testing procedures.


Besides the radioactive testing, many retailers have been working around the clock to capture the Obon season demand (Japanese traditional summer holiday period, with 15 August a public holiday). Special promotions for imported beef (both Australian and US), domestic and imported pork (largely from the US) have been planned for the month, in an attempt to encourage meat consumption during the traditionally high demand season.


In the meantime, both numbers and prices of Japanese Wagyu carcases in the Tokyo meat market remain at historically low levels since the discovery of the contamination. Despite reduced supplies as a result of the movement ban, the trade expects the carcase prices to stay low during August.

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