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Beef retail prices rose for a second straight week in the five days through Friday, setting another record as demand increased amid consumer concerns over bird flu, the farm ministry said Monday.

The average price of domestically produced frozen loin beef rose 1 yen, or 0.1 percent, from the previous week to 690 yen per 100 grams, the highest level since the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry started keeping records in August 2003.

“The bird flu outbreaks have prompted an increasing number of consumers to avoid chicken meat and turn to beef,” said an official at the Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau.

The popularity of domestic beef has also been boosted by the ban on U.S. beef imports, imposed by the government in late December following the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, the ministry said.

The average retail price of imported beef also increased for the second consecutive week, rising 3 yen to 379 yen.

The average retail price of pork loin was down 1 yen to 239 yen, while that of chicken meat came to 117 yen, unchanged for the fourth consecutive week.

Meanwhile, the government-backed Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corp. said wholesale prices of imported Australian frozen beef increased about 1 percent.

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