Terri Carstensen from Odeboldt was one of three Iowans representing Iowa's beef industry on a beef trade mission to Japan during November. They report that Japanese beef consumers and buyers are ready for supplies of U.S. beef to return to 2003 levels. Response to beef promotions conducted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation show that many Japanese consumers prefer the taste and quality of U.S. beef over that currently supplied by Australia.
Japanese consumers are worried about food safety, since they have had 30 confirmed cases of BSE, Carstensen said.
Japan is the size of Montana, with 127 million people. Before the BSE scare, the U.S. sold $1.39 billion in beef and variety meats to the Japanese.
"We visited five importers and wholesale companies, and all expressed the desire for U.S. beef exports to increase to levels prior to the closing of the Japanese market due to the BSE case," said Carstensen, chair of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. "They also stressed the need for some kind of age-verification of our beef... for assure safety."
"Lack of supply of U.S. beef was also a consistent comment from the three major Japanese importers," adds Helen Wiese, IBIC Director from Manning. "Limitations on age under 21 months make it difficult to provide U.S. beef during this time period. All expressed confidence that imports could increase by spring of 2007.