U.S. beef exports could reach record high of 974,000 tonnes, worth US$5.13B, in 2012, as Japan may ease import restrictions, U.S. Meat Export Federation says

LOS ANGELES , January 24, 2012 () – According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, U.S. beef exports may potentially reach a record high of 974,000 tonnes, worth approximately US$5.13 billion, in 2012, up from an estimated 914,500 tonnes in 2011, Bloomberg reported Jan. 24.

If this forecast is accurate, 2012 will constitute the second consecutive year of record-high beef exports.

Keiko Yamaguchi, the executive director of consumer equity research at Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo, said that Japan may ease restrictions on the import of American beef, raising the age limit on slaughtered cattle from 20 months to 30 months, sometime around the middle of 2012.

If the restrictions are eased during the second quarter, sales of U.S. beef to Japan may increase 43% to 202,100 metric tons, predicted research company Global AgriTrends.

This would constitute the largest amount of beef imports to Japan since 2003.

In 2004, Japan banned imports of U.S. beef following the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad cow disease, in the U.S.

In 2005, Japan relaxed its ban to allow the import of meat from cattle slaughtered at the age of 20 months or younger.

In Jan. 2010, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said that the ban against older cattle cost the U.S. beef industry approximately $1 billion annually in lost sales.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy was found in three U.S. The last reported case was in 2006.

The brain-wasting disease was found in three U.S. cows, the last of them in 2006.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg, New York, New York, on Jan. 24, 2012.

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