US beef could soon return to British supermarket shelves after nearly 20 years of absence.

A new software product launched for American cattlemen gives their animals full traceability and can guarantee they have not been given hormone treatment, raising the prospect of US-branded beef going back on sale in the UK .

"US cattle producers are most anxious to get back into the EU," said Chuck Jolley of marketing company, Jolley Associates.

"They think they can offer an excellent product and have felt an open market was the best way to let consumers decide what they want. I'm looking forward to a 'made in America' burger or steak on my next visit to the UK."

The meat was all but banned from the EU in 1989 when Brussels introduced a ban on imports of meat from hormone-treated animals. Because US farmers gave cattle growth promoters and had no way of proving if they were hormone-free, the $140m-a-year trade to the EU dried to a trickle.

Since then, the USDA has accredited just four of the country's meat processors for export to the EU. But they have struggled to find any volume of cattle. In 2005, just 3,100 tonnes of US beef were exported to Europe, with most going to Germany. In 2006 there was even less, despite rising beef prices on the internal market and an acknowledged shortage of product.

The non-hormone treated cattle software has been developed by IMI Global as the first link in a supply chain stretching to the EU.

US beef could end up on plates, supermarket shelves and in pies and burgers, said Andrew Marshall, a former meat importer now representing IMI in the UK.

"A lot of British tourists have gone on holiday to the US and had a good eating experience," said Marshall. "If US beef starts popping up on supermarket shelves, I think they'll buy it."