Challenging start to the year knocks Japanese imports back
Japanese imports of pig meat this year have fallen considerably. In the year-to-March, imports of pig meat (including offal) totalled 269,000 tonnes, 6% less (16,000 tonnes) less than last year.
The Japanese pork sector has had a challenging start to the year. Outbreaks of classical swine fever have been affecting farms in the Gifu region. The government has tightened regulations on the movement of animals and pork in a bid to reduce the further spread of the disease across the country, according to Rabobank.
Japan is a net importer of pork. In 2018, 53% of pig meat consumed in the nation was imported, according to the USDA. With Japan so reliant on imports, the nation could be exposed to volatile global markets with the expected protein deficit this year which could increase the cost of imported pig meat.
Shipments from Canada and Mexico have increased by 3% and 2% respectively, compared to last year. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free-trade agreement between 11 countries, came into play at the start of the year. Exports of pig meat from Canada and Mexico to Japan have increased under this new trade agreement.
The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement also came into effect at the start of February. Looking at EU28 exports, there was a 5% increase in shipments to Japan in the year-to-February. It is likely that these shipments may not arrive in Japan for several weeks and therefore take longer to see the EU benefitting from the new agreement in the Japanese trade figures.
The new trade agreements have likely contributed to the drop off in imports from the US, as it struggles to compete for market share.