Grass-fed Gain for NZ Beef from US Mad Cow Row

NEW ZEALAND - The latest example of arrogance in the agricultural world is the cavalier way the Americans seem to be treating the North Asian beef market.
calendar icon 25 October 2007
clock icon 1 minute read

The United States had a US$2.3 billion (NZ$3.6 billion) a year market in Japan, Korea and Taiwan before mad cow disease turned up on a Washington farm in 2003.

Driven by food safety fears bordering on hysteria (with just a touch of self- interest for their domestic beef industry), these countries have been the last to lift bans imposed at the time.

But the US has not helped its cause. Its attempts to win its way back onto dinner plates have been marked by a bumbling ineptitude that the longer it has gone on can only be construed as arrogance.

Japan, Korea and Taiwan have sporadically lifted their bans on US beef – on condition that it came from young cattle and contained no brains or spinal cords – only to reimpose them as US exporters have continually flouted the rules.

It is New Zealand and Australia who have been the beneficiaries. Since 2003, New Zealand beef exports to North Asia have leapt from 70,000 tonnes to more than 113,000 tonnes a year, bringing in NZ$310 million more a year.

The bonus for New Zealand is that it is winning over diners to its grass-fed beef, a taste distinctly different from American and Australian grain-fed beef.


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