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Japan’s Pork Imports Surge in July

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Japan’s pork/pork variety meat imports in July increased by one-third year-over-year to 107,741 metric tons (mt), driven by a continued surge in imports of European pork and strong growth from the United States. Imports of frozen pork from EU suppliers totaled 38,434 mt, up 109 percent from a year ago and the largest since 2005. Denmark remained the largest European supplier in July at 16,905 mt (+81 percent), but imports from Spain (8,994 mt, +222 percent) more than tripled from a year ago.

For imports of frozen U.S. pork, July import data revealed a shift from ground seasoned pork to frozen picnics. Frozen imports from the U.S. in July more than doubled from a year ago (14,629 mt, +135 percent), pushing the January-July total to 52,811 mt, 2 above last year’s pace. Total (frozen and chilled) pork/pork variety meat imports from the U.S. were up 18 percent in July to 41,360 mt. For January-July, imports were up 7 percent to 262,107 mt.

July imports counting toward Japan’s import safeguard – which does not include pork imported within Mexico and Chile’s tariff rate quotas – totaled 82,915 mt. So Japan’s August and September imports of chilled/frozen pork must average less than about 70,300 mt to avoid triggering the pork import safeguard.1 There is not a high level of concern among importers about the safeguard being triggered, however, because of Japan’s large pork inventories. In June, Japan’s frozen pork inventory reached a multi-year high of 166,907 mt, up 11 percent from a year ago.

Japan’s domestic pork production in the first half of 2014 was 444,927 mt, down 1.7 percent year-over-year.

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1 An explanation of how Japan’s import safeguards are administered was included in the Aug. 2, 2013, edition of the Export Newsline.
Import data source: Global Trade Atlas
Inventory data source: Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation of Japan