Japanese team to visit three beef factories
A team of Japanese officials is to visit a number Irish slaughter plants in the next fortnight as moves towards reopening the Japanese market for Irish beef gather pace.
While the Department of Agriculture and leading processors declined to comment on the visits, it is understood that three slaughter plants are to be visited by the Japanese officials.
A definite date for the visits is not known but it is believed they will take place before the end of the month.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny is due to lead a major trade mission to Japan in the first week of December and Irish food companies are expected to make up a significant proportion of the travelling party.
The visit of the Japanese team, which is expected to be comprised primarily of veterinary officials, is seen as a last step in the process of securing access for Irish beef to the Japanese market once more.
Ireland has been precluded from exporting beef to Japan since the outbreak of BSE in the mid 1990s.
Japan is one of the world's leading importers of food, with the total annual spend on agricultural imports topping $40bn. Beef imports alone are worth $2bn.
While Irish companies would hope to supply prime cuts to the Japanese market, it could also prove a valuable outlet for offal and other fifth- quarter produce.