More Argentinian beef is on its way to Europe after export restrictions were relaxed by the country's government in a bid to boost domestic beef prices.

For the next two months, the country will be able to export up to 90% of its pre-ban volumes of meat, with significant amounts expected to reach Europe.

Several retailers - including Sainsbury's - already stock Argentinian beef, but MLC's international manager, Peter Hardwick, warned that the trade could be risky.

"It's too early to know exactly what the volume of beef coming into the EU will be, but most of it is likely to go to Germany.

"There may not be a stomach for Argentinian beef in the UK, mainly because of uncertainty concerning forward contracts. This uncertainty means UK importers are unlikely to be willing to stick their necks out," he said.

"The government could well reinstate the exports restrictions again after 60 days and, until buyers can be sure that there's not going to be further interference, most will steer clear of forward contracts."

Some of the beef could find its way to the UK on an ad-hoc basis, but it was unlikely that large amounts would come in under long-term contracts, Hardwick added.

Argentina exported 600,000 tonnes of beef last year. Of this amount, 67,400 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef and 16,600 tonnes of cooked canned beef were exported to the EU.

But the latest relaxation of export restrictions is limited only to beef cuts from steers weighing more than 460kg and cuts from cows that are destined for manufacturing beef.

John Wharton, MD of meat importer Wharton Foods, said: "It is not like the floodgates have opened, but there is good demand for Argentinian beef, albeit more from the foodservice sector.

"Supplies are just coming through again from South America, so prices are going to drop."

Depending on the development of local retail beef prices in Argentina, the measure could be extended for a further 30 days.