No beef export surge from Japan FMD outbreak

29 May, 2010 04:00 AM
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MLA Japan regional manager Glen Feist.
MLA Japan regional manager Glen Feist.

THE outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Japan will not result in a surge of Australian beef exports, according to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

FMD was confirmed in the Japanese city of Miyazaki on April 20 and since then 205,000 pigs and cows within a 10km radius of areas in the Miyazaki Prefecture have been vaccinated and culled.

So far 144,335 animals were infected or suspected of being infected, which includes 18,561cows, 125,759 pigs and eight goats.

MLA said compared with the 2000 FMD outbreak, the recent detection had been slow and pigs had also been infected, resulting in a rapid spread of the disease due to the density of pig farms in the affected areas.

Miyazaki plays a role in supplying Wagyu beef.

Despite the FMD outbreak there had been no visible impact to meat consumption in Japan so far with retailers and foodservice outlets continuing to sell beef. The wholesale market has been trading as usual.

Beef exports from Japan remain suspended with exceptions of Hong Kong and Macau.

MLA Japan regional manager Glen Feist said the outbreak of FMD coincided with the drop in the Australian dollar, which was mainly why interest in Australian beef had increased.

"The Australian dollar dropped more than 10 per cent last week so that in itself stimulated a lot of interest in Japan," Mr Feist said.

"The two shouldn't be confused.

"However what that interest did was let the Japanese buyers know that there's a global market place out there.

"For years they have been quite dominant in their buying and quite aggressive with their pricing and negotiations.

"We will see a surge in exports, but its not at this stage linked to the FMD outbreak."

"With these emerging markets opening up, especially for manufacturing beef in Russia and Indonesia, they've had a wake up call that they're playing in the global market now, not just the Australian-Japanese market.

Mr Feist said there was potential for Australia to pick up other business around the world that Japan had lost, but it would only be small.

"At the height Japan only exported 565t, so why it's all high quality, high value stuff, it's only very small," he said.

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