Japanese pig meat imports fall in Q1

Thursday, 6 May 2021

By Bronwyn Magee

Japanese pig meat imports (inc. offal) totalled 244,800 tonnes in the first quarter of 2021 (January – March), dropping back 6% compared to the same period in 2020.

Notable declines were seen in shipments from the US, falling 9% (8,600 tonnes) year-on-year in the three month period, to total 89,000 tonnes. Imports from Spain fell by 4,900 tonnes (19%). German volumes also fell significantly, a result of the ASF related ban imposed last September. Industry reports suggest this ban could remain in place for the rest of the year. Japan does not generally import from countries affected by ASF. However, it did recently agree a regional approach to trading with Hungary, following two years of negotiation.

Meanwhile, shipments from Denmark (+12%) and Canada (+5%) lifted, although this was not enough to outweigh losses from other suppliers.

Looking at the product mix, imports of fresh pork lifted 2% on the year, while frozen (-9%), processed (-15%) and offal (-20%) dropped back. According to industry reports, fresh pork is usually sold through retail, while frozen pork is sold via foodservice. As such, disruption to eating out resulting from COVID-19 seems to have shifted demand away from frozen to fresh/chilled pork. However, this has not been enough to grow import demand overall.

For 2021 overall, the USDA expects Japanese pork consumption to remain relatively steady on last year’s levels, with foodservice sales anticipated to remain weak in the first half of 2021. This, combined with strong domestic production, is expected limit imports in 2021. Overall, imports are anticipated to lift just 1% on 2020.

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