In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami that ravaged much of northern Japan, the staff of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)-Japan is working around the clock to assess the impact this natural disaster has had on the country and, in particular, the meat trade of Japan.

Refrigeration is a critical consideration in maintaining the necessary cold chain, but reports indicate that the power grid is operational in many areas, especially ports, and power will be diverted and rerouted to areas in need. Rolling blackouts throughout the Tokyo area may affect the distribution of goods after arriving at the port, but the extent of this impact is still being evaluated. Of course, areas in northeastern Japan — the hardest hit areas — do not currently have a working power delivery system, so there will be problems in serving those areas.

Transportation is another issue for the regions affected. In the short term, many key highways are being reserved for emergency vehicle use, so product distribution in northeast coastal areas will be challenged, but there already are signs that companies are regaining limited access to roads for their distribution.

One leading retailer in the region reports that about 20% of its stores were open two days after the disaster.

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