Scottish beef industry seeks support on Japanese market

A letter has been sent to the Secretary of State Owen Paterson for support in the reopening of a lucrative Scottish beef market.

Representatives of the Scottish beef industry wrote to Paterson seeking his assistance in re-engaging with Japan to open a market for Scotch beef there.

The letter was prompted by the recent success of the UK and Scottish food trade missions to China, Japan and Hong Kong, where growing demand for high-quality food products was identified.

Despite the success of the trade missions, the Japanese market has been closed to red meat exports from Europe since the BSE crisis in the 1990s.

Japanese authorities have been in negotiations with other EU member states to reopen their markets to beef. According to the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), reopening beef trade with Japan would be of similar importance to the potential reopening of trade with Russia, which was reported late last week.

The letter, which was signed by NFUS, the National Beef Association, the Scottish Beef Cattle Association and Appraisers in Scotland, stated that the growth of beef consumption in China and south-east Asia would offer a “golden opportunity for Scottish producers”.

Nigel Miller of NFUS said: “Scotland has a fantastic story to tell on the quality and provenance of its food and drink and the prospect for beef farmers of tapping into Japanese demand for high-quality products, such as whisky and salmon, is mouth-watering.”

According to Miller, the UK has some of the highest levels of traceability and safety in the world. He said the UK was well-placed to capitalise on any export opportunity and was eager to hear from Paterson on how the UK could best access the markets.

Miller added: “Defra’s recent success in securing a lift on the ban on exports of British beef to Russia shows what can be achieved and we believe there would be merit in directing resources towards securing a similar export deal with Japan. As Scottish beef farmers, we offer our support to achieve this.”

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