The Japanese Agriculture Ministry has approved a California-based meatpacker to resume beef exports to Japan. The approval increases the list of U.S. packing plants allowed to ship meat to Japan at 35.

Japan announced on July 27 an easing of its import ban of U.S. beef over mad cow disease fears with sales of U.S. beef resuming last week. Japan initially recognized 34 U.S. meatpackers as qualified for Japanese exports under a bilateral safeguard agreement, excluding National Beef because its manual update was incomplete. Another meatpacking plant, Wisconsin-based American Foods, however, requires continuing monitoring by U.S. Department of Agriculture officials.

While the resumption renewed U.S. access to what was once the most lucrative export market for U.S. beef, recent surveys suggest winning back market share will be difficult. An overwhelming majority of consumers have expressed concerns about the safety of U.S. beef. Most major supermarkets and fast food restaurants also have said they had no immediate plans to use U.S. beef.