Japan has confirmed that imports of Uruguayan beef can resume for the first time in nearly two decades, ending a 19-year ban on fresh beef trade between the two countries.

Japanese Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Enzo Benech announced the authorisation of 16 Uruguayan refrigerators.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Japan is the world’s third largest beef importer.

The decision allows several food companies such as Marfrig Global Foods and Minerva to export fresh beef to Japan.

“According to the US Department of Agriculture, Japan is the world’s third largest beef importer.”

Marfrig South America operations CEO Miguel Gularte said it is a great opportunity for the company. The Brazilian food processor intends to make use of the export permits and serve the beef market in Japan.

The company already has a presence in the Japanese market as it supplies beef products through National Beef, which is part of the company’s operation in North America.

In April, Marfrig reached an agreement to acquire 51% membership interests in the National Beef Packing Company, which exports chilled meat to the Japanese market from the US.

With a capacity to slaughter 700,000 cattle per annum, Marfig is also one of the major exporters of beef to Uruguay.

Minerva noted that its three plants there have the capacity to process 3,200 head a day.