WASHINGTON (DTN)--U.S. beef exports to Japan will fall by eight to 10% this year because of consumer reaction to discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in Japanese herds, says the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

In a telephone news conference this morning, MEF executive Phil Seng said the federation will launch a Japanese campaign using advertising and public relations to re-build demand. It will stress U.S. beef as nutritious, wholesome and free of BSE.

Three cases of BSE have been confirmed in Japan since Sept. 10. The brain-wasting disease has been linked to a fatal brain affliction in people.

Restaurant and grocery sales of beef and beef products fell sharply after discovery of BSE in Japan.

Seng told reporters "it's safe to say" that U.S. beef exports to Japan will be down eight to 10% compared to last year's 526,264 tons and on par with 511,357 tons in 1999.

"These last...months have been tough," he said.

According to a Reuters report, exports for January-October were 419,120 tons, down six percent from 447,000 tons at the same point in 2000.

About $4.6 million has been earmarked for the "phase two" campaign, said Seng, just back from Tokyo.

Earlier this week, Australian forecast a 7.7% drop in Australian beef and veal exports to Japan in 2001-02, to total 310,000 tons, because of BSE fears.

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