Japanese pork imports bounce back after Covid

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Every year Japan imports in excess of 1.1 million tonnes of pig meat and offal, making it the second largest market in Asia (and the third largest market in the world). Over half of this volume is supplied by the US and Canada. The remaining volume is made up from a variety of smaller exporters, but importantly includes Spain and Denmark. Compared to other Asian markets, Japan tends to be a high value market with the average import unit price standing at £3,500/tonne last year.

Many markets saw a drop in pig meat imports through 2019, 2020 and the early part of 2021 as product was instead directed towards China. Due to its higher import prices and reflecting not only the type of products imported but also the value to exporters in maintaining market share, less of this behaviour was recorded in the Japanese market.

Chart showing Japan's imports of pig meat

However, the effect of Covid restrictions did dampen import demand in Japan and so, in January and February together, pig meat imports (including offal) rose 13% to 182,000 tonnes, according to the Japanese Ministry of Finance. While this is a large year on year rise, it shows a return to volumes more typical before 2020. Spanish exports during this period rose by more than 10,000 tonnes, to over 25,000 tonnes, which is positive for the European market as Spanish production had been growing rapidly underpinned by exports to China.

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