Japan Now Open to American Lamb
July 13, 2018

Nearly 15 years after Japan closed its borders to American lamb during the cattle BSE issue in 2003, the country has reopened to imports from the United States. And, it couldn’t come at a better time.

“Retail sales of lamb and mutton are on the rise in Japan,” read a story on the Global Meat News website earlier this year. As is the case in the United States, lamb consumption is relatively small compared to other proteins in the country, but continues to grow. Japanese consumers have tended to eat lamb mostly in restaurants, “but supermarket sales of lamb and mutton nationwide are on the rise,” the report continued.

Last year, Japan imported $169 million in sheep and goat meat, primarily from Australia and New Zealand, to supplement domestic production. But now Japanese consumers will have another option. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service issued notice of the new market for American lamb on Wednesday, July 11.

“We’ve been aggressive in calling for the re-opening of this market to American lamb for years,” said American Sheep Industry Association President Mike Corn of New Mexico. “Trade is such an important issue all around the world right now, and it’s important for American lamb producers to be able to compete in a global market. With the opening of Taiwan and Japan in the last three years, we’re increasing our producers’ ability to do just that.”

ASI reiterated its desire to open the Japanese market in a letter to President Donald J. Trump’s transition team before he even took office in January of 2017. The sheep industry’s position on this valuable market has been emphasized in meetings with agriculture and trade officials in the administration, as well as congressional leaders.

To read more about the guidelines for U.S. meat exports to Japan, go to https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products/export-library-requirements-by-country/Japan.