For several years, USMEF has been working with USDA to resolve lamb market access issues in the high-value target markets of Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Access is also needed in Vietnam, Thailand, China and South America.
UPDATE: In April 2016, U.S. lamb was added to the eligible products list for Taiwan. So U.S. lamb may now be exported to Taiwan for the first time since 2003, provided that all products are derived from animals slaughtered on or after April 21, 2016. More details are available in this USMEF news release.
UPDATE: In May 2017, FSIS clarified that U.S. lamb has access to Guatemala. While Guatemala had recently been accepting lamb shipments and the market shows significant promise for U.S. lamb, this clarification will give U.S. exporters guidance about the range of eligible products and assurance that shipments will continue to enter Guatemala without interruption.
UPDATE: In December 2017, FSIS clarified that U.S. lamb has access to El Salvador.
UPDATE: In July 2018, Japan reopened to U.S. lamb for the first time in nearly 15 years. See more details in this USMEF member news article.
UPDATE: On Nov. 28, 2018, USMEF held its first major U.S. lamb event in Japan – an educational seminar and tasting session. See more details in this news release.
UPDATE: While U.S. lamb export volumes to Japan are still small, the market is showing progress in 2019 with the addition of U.S. lamb to the menus of several high-end restaurants, including Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, the Tokyo American Club’s CHOP Steakhouse and innovative lamb specialty restaurant Hitsuji Sunrise.