Japanese pork imports remain steady during first half of 2020

Japanese imports of fresh and frozen pork during the first six months of 2020 totalled 468,200 tonnes, being relatively steady (-0.6%) on the same period last year, according to a report from AHDB analyst Hannah Clarke.

Volumes of fresh and frozen pork from key suppliers including the US, Canada, Spain and Mexico were all higher on the year. However, a continuing decline in imports from Denmark have offset this growth. Volumes have also fallen from smaller suppliers including Chile, France and Ireland, although to a lesser extent.

Ms Clarke commented: “Reduction of Japanese tariffs on pork products from North America may have bolstered trade, while lower US pork prices at present may be providing some import incentive.”

According to global industry analysts Rabobank, Japanese pig slaughter in the first and second quarter of 2020 was up by 3% and 0.5% year-on-year, respectively. Quarter three slaughter is expected to be lower on the year however, in-line with seasonally lower demand over the summer.

Imports during the third quarter are also expected to decline, primarily in response to lower demand. There could also be some reduction in imports from the US due to processing disruption caused by COVID-19.

Ms Clarke added: “Industry consultants Gira had originally forecast Japanese imports to be down 4% on 2019, due to weaker foodservice demand and suppressed tourism. According to Rabobank, foodservice is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, but household demand for pork is expected to remain steady. Media reports suggest that Japan is facing a re-emergence of the virus in certain prefectures, and so how this develops may well have some bearing on imports going forward.”

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