Kangaroo meat exports to Europe are rising as livestock diseases there force consumers to look for alternatives to beef, trade officials said Wednesday.

 

Australia's kangaroo sales to Europe are expected to rise by 20 percent this year from 11 million pounds in 2000, the Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia said. 

"Orders are coming from right across Europe but it is our traditional markets of Germany, Belgium, Denmark and France that are buying the most," said the association's development manager, John Kelly. 

Australia on Wednesday joined the United States and other nations in banning all imports of EU livestock, meat and dairy products, as livestock disease scares hit Europe. 

Outbreaks of mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease are centered in Britain but are radiating out to other European nations. On Tuesday, a French farm became the first on mainland Europe to confirm foot-and-mouth disease among its animals. 

Kangaroo, a lowfat red meat with a strong game taste, is now exported to more than 30 countries, but Europe remains the largest buyer, taking about 80 percent of the total.