With their own domestic demand for high value Wagyu beef suffering due to sluggish consumer demand, Japanese processors have been exploring opportunities in various overseas markets, including the Middle East.
Japan commenced exporting beef to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2009, with two beef processing plants currently certified for this market. Additionally, a plant in the Kumamoto prefecture, an area known for the production of high quality Wagyu, has announced that it recently obtained a Halal certification from the Indonesian Council of Ulema’s (MUI). The certification was confirmed in July, with the company aiming to export 100 tonnes during the first 12 months, according to msn Sankei news.
There are approximately 40 beef processing plants in Japan that have been deemed suitable by the government authorities to export product. Despite recent major setbacks, including Foot-and-Mouth-Disease (FMD) in 2010 and radiation contamination last year, Japanese beef exports reached 386 tonnes swt during the first seven months of 2012, up 32% compared with the same time last year.
Japan has also resumed beef exports to the US, one of top export destinations for Japan’s Wagyu beef prior to the FMD outbreak in 2010. Current major markets include Hong Kong, Cambodia, Singapore, Macao and Thailand.
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