Irish beef of any age can now be shipped to Japan. The 30-month restriction has been removed, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed announced on Friday.
The news follows negotiations with the Japanese authorities in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and also the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW).
“This comes at a particularly opportune time shortly before my trade mission to Japan, and on top of the recent good news from China in relation to the approval of Irish beef plants,” Minister Creed said.
“It is a testament to the strong co-operation of Team Ireland and our very productive relations with our Japenese counterparts in progressing market access. Team Ireland is growing in Japan with the addition later this year of an agricultural attaché in the Irish Embassy in Tokyo and also the placement of a Bord Bia Market specialist in Japan.”
A team of inspectors from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare visited Ireland in March 2019.
In three weeks’ time Minister Creed will lead the next agri-food Trade Mission to Japan between 10 and 12 June.
Ireland exported €3.6m worth of beef, with a volume of 840t, to Japan in 2018, according to the CSO trade statistics. The majority of this was in the form of bovine tongues, a delicacy in Japan, and other beef offal. As of the end of March 2019, around 200t had been exported.
Beef in Japan
Beef consumption in Japan is currently around 10kg/capita and is forecast to rise to 10.5kg/capita by 2023 and prices are forecast to rise to over 9,000 Yen (€73/kg).
“Efforts to progress sheepmeat access to Japan will come to the fore now in advance and during the Trade Mission there,” Minister Creed added.
A trader notice is expected to issue on this change soon and the DAFM market access web portal will be updated also.
The IFA welcomed the news as a step towards reducing processor specification requirements. IFA president Joe Healy said the age restriction and other processor requirements for the in-specification bonus are causing a lot of frustration amongst farmers.
"The age limit originates from the BSE crisis and there is no veterinary reason for it to remain in place," he said.
The economist Jim Power is currently verifying the extent to which the age requirement is still being demanded by retailers, particularly in the UK.
“We need to do all we can to persuade buyers that the age limit and other restrictions are no longer necessary so that they can be removed from the requirements for the in-spec bonus,” Healy said.
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