The good news is that the market is open and the original shipment of beef sold out by Costco in a matter of hours. The bad news is that the 20-months-of-age rule severely limits the amount of product currently available for shipment, and very few outlets have made the decision to carry U.S. beef. We're starting from ground zero.
Price, availability, consumer perception of our product, and reliability of the supply chain are all sitting outside of acceptable standards right now. Japan's leading restaurant chain indicated this week it will start offering U.S. beef probably in March but it will be labeled for consumers who have concerns.
According to polls, the Japanese consumer isn't confident in the safety of our product and feels it was allowed back prematurely due to Washington pressure on the Japanese government. It will take time and a big investment to win back the confidence of what was our largest export market.
-- Troy Marshall