Retail prices of imported beef fell for the first time in eight weeks in the five days ending March 5, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said Monday.

The average price of imported chilled beef slipped 7 yen, or 1.8 percent, from the previous week to 373 yen per 100 grams, the same level as seen three weeks ago, the ministry said.

Imported beef prices had been rising since Japan imposed an import ban on U.S. beef products after the discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States in December.

“It may be possible that beef prices will stop declining as wholesale prices have stabilized,” a ministry official said.

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