Beef exports from the US to Japan declined by a massive 31% in the final quarter of last year, compared with the same period of 2000.

The head of the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) was quick to attribute the decline to consumer concern over the autumn outbreak of BSE in Japan. The fall also reflects the fact that 2000 was a record year.

Taking the year as a whole, US beef imports to Japan fell by approximately 8.5% compared with 2000, USMEF indicated.