Japan v. U.S. beef is benefiting Aussie, NZ ranchers

April 13, 2004, just-food.com: Beef producers in Australia and New Zealand look to be the big winners in the continuing stand off between Japan and the U.S. over BSE concerns.

Japan, which has banned the importation of U.S. beef since a case of mad cow disease was discovered there in December, must look to other sources to fill the widening gap in supply.

The two largest meat processors in Japan, Nippon Meat Packers and Itoham Foods, are both reported by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun to have unveiled plans to boost imports from New Zealand and Australia to cover the shortfall. Both companies are major importers of beef, with a good share of their inventory coming from the US in recent years. In fiscal 2003, for example, 100,000 tons of the 200,000t of beef handled by Nippon came from the US, with 70,000t emanating from Australia.

Nippon will boost the head of cattle raised at affiliated branches in Australia by 20% to 85,000, the paper reported. Itoham will reduce the fattening time for cattle raised in Australia and New Zealand from eight months to four to five months.

The news of alternative beef sourcing comes amidst an announcement from the U.S. that it will not allow private companies to test 100 percent of their cattle for BSE. The proposal would have satisfied Japan’s demands and allowed for limited entrance of U.S. beef. Japan has said it will not resume imports of US beef until the US introduces 100% testing of cattle.

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