U.S. beef export sales to Japan soared to their highest in more than two years last week following Tokyo's decision to ease import rules related to the outbreak of mad cow disease in 2003, government data showed on Friday. USDA weekly export sales data showed that Japan bought 10,900 tons in the week ending Feb. 17, the most since 12,497 tons in the week ending Dec. 23, 2010, reports Reuters.

"It indicates that the Japanese are interested in U.S. beef otherwise they would not have relaxed the age restrictions," Iowa-based U.S. Commodities Inc analyst Don Roose said.

Japan also may be aggressively buying beef before global and U.S. cattle numbers decrease even more in the months ahead, which is expected to send beef prices much higher, said Roose.

Total U.S. beef sales last week to all destinations were 22,200 tons, the most since 23,500 tons during the week of April 12, 2012.

Source: Reuters