Photo of Japan’s pork consumption continues steady climb

Bethan Wilkins


AHDB Pork Market Intelligence


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Japan’s pork consumption continues steady climb

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The USDA has recently published its Japan market update and outlook. As the second largest global pork importer, Japanese imports of fresh/frozen pork in the year to date (January to August) are up nearly 8% year-on-year to a total of 612,000 tonnes.

The EU is the primary supplier of Japanese fresh/frozen pork imports, accounting for 36% of the total so far in 2017 (excluding offal), and 62% of frozen; a decrease from 37% and 63% market share respectively in 2016. As Japanese imports increased within this period, the decline in share may be a result of EU production failing to react to Japan’s increased import demand; a reflection of reduced EU production this year. Denmark remains the largest EU supplier (12%), followed by Spain (12%), and the Netherlands (3%).

Implementation of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA) is set to reduce tariffs on EU exports to Japan over the course of the next 10 years, which could lead to an increase in EU shipments in this period.


Almost 29% of Japan’s total pork imports in the year to date originated from the US, down from over 30% in the same period of 2016. The driving force of this decline was a large increase in tonnes shipped from Canada, rising by 22%. Japanese demand for loin and shoulder cuts from these origins holds firm. Mexican shipments of frozen pigmeat increased 22% year-on-year to a total of 50,000 tonnes, while fresh shipments declined 4% to 7,600 tonnes.

Growth in Japanese total consumption of meat products is low, and projected at less than 1% per annum until 2021, while domestic pig meat production is forecast to remain flat throughout 2017 and 2018, with slaughterings at around 16 million head. As such, any growth in consumption will need to be fulfilled by increased import quantities. Although the UK does not currently export much pig meat to Japan due to the overcrowded market environment, present forecasts highlight the possibility that the UK will have more supplies available to export in the near future. Japan’s demand may have the potential to absorb some of these volumes. Under the effects of Brexit, the UK will be unable to benefit from JEEPA, leaving us susceptible to Japans complex import tariff system. Read more about the UK’s opportunities in Japan here.


Annie Linekar, Trainee Analyst, 024 7647 8723