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Australia, Canada Eating Away at U.S. Share in Smaller Japanese Beef Market

Thursday, February 7, 2002

With the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in three Japanese cattle last fall, beef consumption in Japan dropped sharply and the U.S. is losing out to competitors Australia and Canada as it fights to maintain market share in a shrinking market, according to a special report posted today by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. Japan's beef consumption grew without interruption through the mid-1990s, but has since stagnated at a million and one half tons annually. Imports have grown to account for about two-thirds of annual consumption in recent years. With Japan's beef imports falling in 2001 and little optimism for significant gains in 2002, competition for market share has intensified. While Japan is a critical market for U.S. beef, U.S. product is not faring well in this new environment. According to USDA analysts, Australia and Canada are gaining market share in the frozen beef segment of the Japanese beef market. The U.S. share of that growing segment declined from 61 percent of total imports in 1994 to 52 percent in 2001. View the USDA report at: http://www.fas.usda.gov/dlp/highlights/2002/japan0205.pdf.

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