U.S. beef starts to trickle into wary Japan market

U.S. beef starts to trickle into wary Japan market
TOKYO, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Most Japanese store shelves are still empty of North American beef as only limited volumes have reached the country one month after it ended a two-year ban and agreed to resume buying the meat.
The United States had been one of the top beef suppliers to Japan until Tokyo imposed a ban following the discovery of a U.S. case of mad cow disease in December 2003, halting annual trade worth about $1.4 billion.
Japan’s retailers and food industry have been slow to respond to the trade resumption announced on Dec. 12, saying they wished to gauge the response of the country’s fastidious consumers — whose reaction so far has been cautious.
The view of Yoko Kasahara, a working mother with three sons, is shared by many.
“I won’t be buying U.S. beef because I’m very worried about the U.S. system,” said the 47-year-old Kasahara as she stepped out of a supermarket in central Tokyo.

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