Radiation scare jeopardises Japan beef appetite

Jon Condon, 12/07/2011

Speculation in trade media in Japan suggests that beef consumption may fall following the detection of levels of radioactive cesium in domestic cattle sourced from Fukushima Prefecture near Japan’s breached nuclear power plant.  

The Nikkei newspaper yesterday reported that 75,000 becquerels per kilogram of cesium had been detected in hay at the same farm that shipped 11 cattle in which high cesium levels were found earlier.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) plans to step-up beef screening in Fukushima and six adjacent prefectures – Miyagi, Yamagata, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Niigata.

Chief cabinet secretary Edano said the Japanese government was considering testing all domestic beef cattle for radioactive substances.

On Monday, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market saw prices for Japanese A3 and A4-grade Wagyu carcases decline 6.8pc and 10.4pc respectively.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Agriculture & Livestock Industries Corporation estimates that the nation’s imported beef stocks reached 73,788t at the end of May, up 11.7pc year-on-year and up 3200t from the end April.

While traditionally a slower period for beef consumption in Japan, the outlook continues to look somewhat subdued for Australian beef exports, especially with the high A$, MLA said last week in its monthly cattle industry overview.

The report quoted chillled shortfed fullsets at 572c/kg FOB for June, down 8pc on a month earlier, and 10pc lower than this time last year.


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