A new agreement that will expand access for U.S. beef to Japan is being hailed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) as a positive step for the American beef industry as well as the Japanese trade and consumers.
The change, which takes effect Feb. 1, will allow the United States to export beef from animals under 30 months of age to Japan with the exception of ground beef, which will be phased in after a surveillance period to ensure that the new export protocol is proceeding smoothly. In the aftermath of the discovery of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the U.S. in December 2003, only beef from animals 20 months of age or younger has been eligible for export to Japan.
“This is an extremely positive development that successfully addresses one of the longest standing issues between our two governments,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The U.S. beef industry – from farmers and ranchers to exporters – will benefit from increased exports to this premium market. At the same time, the trade and consumers in Japan will see a wider variety of beef products and improved availability of U.S. beef in the retail and food service channels.
“We are grateful to the governments of Japan and the United States for their efforts to make this agreement a reality,” added Seng.
The U.S. beef industry is working closely with USDA to ensure the smooth implementation of the new agreement. Among the provisions of the agreement are that beef products produced before Feb. 1 must be accompanied by appropriate documentation and produced under the current export verification (EV) program. These products may not be comingled with products produced Feb. 1 or after, which must be produced under the new EV program and accompanied by the new export documentation.
Japan is currently the No. 2 market for U.S. beef exports in terms of value and No. 3 in volume (143,900 metric tons or 317.2 million pounds) valued at $969.8 million through the first 11 months of 2012 – expected to top $1 billion in value for the year for the first time since 2003.
USMEF forecasts that U.S. beef exports to Japan in 2013 as a result of expanded access to the market will increase roughly 45 percent in volume and value, reaching 225,000 metric tons (496 million pounds) and $1.5 billion.