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Key Topic – Japan Beef Access

Japan opened its market to U.S. beef and beef products from cattle under 30 months of age on Feb. 1, 2013 (ground beef was added in June 2013, processed meats were just added effective Jan. 23, 2015). Japan also adopted the FSIS definition for specified risk material (SRM). These changes in Japan’s import requirements mean that at least 90% of U.S. fed beef production is eligible for export to Japan. As a result, we saw a significant increase in U.S. beef exports to Japan in 2013 and Japan maintained its position as the leading destination for U.S. beef in 2014. Exports to Japan slowed in 2015, due in part to the significant tariff rate advantage Australian beef secured through the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. But exports rebounded in 2016, with volume the largest of the post-BSE era at 258,653 mt, up 26 percent year-over-year. Export value totaled $1.51 billion, up 18 percent. 2016 was an especially strong year for chilled beef exports to Japan, which were up 44 percent to 112,334.

Through the first half of 2017, momentum continues to grow as exports to Japan have exceeded last year’s pace by 23 percent in volume (150,812 mt) and 28 percent in value ($905.8 million). This included a 40 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 70,807 mt, valued at $511 million (up 38 percent). U.S. beef now accounts for more than 50 percent of Japan’s chilled beef imports, surpassing Australia, and climbing from 40 percent last year. The outlook for the second half of the year is tempered somewhat, however, but the triggering of Japan’s frozen beef safeguard.