A government delegation from Japan has been inspecting beef production controls across the UK this week – which could reopen the market on UK exports.
The five visiting officials from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture toured farms, laboratories and abattoirs to learn about the country’s food hygiene controls more than 20 years after the BSE outbreak.
In a bid to seek approval for the sale of UK beef to Japan, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Defra organised the visit to show the Japanese delegates the quality standards and welfare behind the UK's beef sector.
The six-day mission, with an evaluation of the visit and a discussion on the next steps for the Government and industry, has been welcomed by farming and livestock experts.
Livestock product exports are worth £2.4 billion to the UK a year - the second largest food and drink export after spirits.
Farming minister George Eustice said this sector could benefit from opportunities to do new trade deals with third countries, but he said a free trade agreement with the EU is still a priority.
Japan has also recently struck a large trade agreement with the European union on Thursday (6 June).
'UK beef on global stage'
AHDB’s International Market Development Director Phil Hadley said Japan is a 'lucrative' market.
“It represents another important step for UK beef on the global stage. Japan is a lucrative market for specific premium beef products and this visit has the potential to create a number of exciting opportunities for UK exporters.
“We look forward to hearing from the delegation and learning what this inspection will mean for quality UK beef exports to Japan in the years to come.”
The visit has been praised by Mr Eustice, who said: “The UK’s beef sector is a global success story – exports go to 84 countries around the world.
"Opening the market to Japan could boost the industry by an estimated £15 million each year, driving growth for our farmers and producers and increasing our global reputation for great taste and quality.”
The Asia-Pacific region could offer 'increasing opportunities' for UK meat exporters looking forward, AHDB Pork has previously said.
The Asian middle class is projected to expand rapidly over the coming years, with two thirds of the world’s middle class living in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).