Japan’s beef/beef variety meat imports in July were up 37 percent to 76,679 mt and were the largest since June 2001. Import growth was driven in part by the carryover in frozen volumes that were not cleared in June in an effort to avoid triggering the safeguard. Frozen imports were up 67 percent to 49,080 mt, and USMEF estimates that even if the product carried over from June was excluded, imports were still at least 20 percent larger than a year ago.
Frozen imports from the U.S. increased 159 percent to 19,347 mt and imports from Australia up 21 percent to 20,839 mt. Chilled beef imports were down 5 percent to 19,971 mt, but imports from the U.S. were up 18 percent to 8,709 mt while imports from Australia were down 18 percent to 10,248 mt.
For January through July, total imports were up 9 percent to 349,287 mt led by a 48 percent increase from the U.S. (120,176 mt), which offset an 8 percent decline from Australia (180,503 mt). Imports from New Zealand were up slightly (23,832 mt, +1 percent) with stronger growth from Canada (9,227 mt, +82 percent) and Mexico (13,885 mt, +19 percent). Frozen beef imports were up 10 percent (186,924 mt) with U.S. up 68 percent (53,117 mt) along with larger volumes from New Zealand, Mexico and Canada. Frozen imports from Australia, however, were down 10 percent (98,521 mt). Chilled beef imports were up 3 percent to 124,692 mt with a 25 percent increase from the U.S. (to 50,234 mt) offsetting declines from Australia (68,143 mt, -7 percent) and New Zealand (4,248 mt, -14 percent).
There is still risk of triggering the frozen safeguard during the second quarter of the Japanese fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Frozen beef imports must average less than 30,000 mt per month for August and September for the safeguard not to be triggered. This means imports need to be lower than a year ago for the two months combined, so importers will likely need to monitor the situation closely again in this month. (An explanation of Japan’s import safeguards was included in the Aug. 2 USMEF Export Newsline.)
Japan’s total pork/pork variety meat imports were down 3 percent in July to 80,502 mt, but imports from the U.S. increased 3 percent to 35,175 mt. Imports were also larger from Mexico (5,894 mt, +22 percent) and Chile (3,136 mt, +38 percent) but lower from the EU (19,399 mt, -2 percent) and Canada (14,146 mt, -23 percent). In line with recent trends, chilled imports (25,864 mt, +24 percent) and processed products such as ground seasoned pork (11,335 mt, +15 percent) increased year-over-year while frozen pork imports were lower (36,496 mt, -19 percent). The U.S. remains the primary supplier of chilled pork (17,995 mt in July, +23 percent), though imports from Canada were also higher (7,161 mt, +31 percent). Despite July imports being lower (18,349 mt, -4 percent) frozen pork is dominated by the EU. July saw even steeper declines for the U.S. (6,227 mt, -29 percent) and Canada (4,678 mt, -60 percent), while the only growth came from Mexico (4,556 mt, +35 percent) and Chile (2,643 mt, +45 percent). Ground seasoned pork imports were higher from both the U.S. (8,267 mt, +8 percent) and Canada (1,768 mt, +89 percent).
For January through July, trends were similar with total imports down 3 percent to 548,608 mt despite larger imports from the EU (135,657 mt, +8 percent, primarily frozen volumes). Imports of U.S. pork were down 7 percent to 245,938 mt as growth in chilled pork (113,818 mt, +8 percent) and ground seasoned pork (59,385 mt, +6 percent) did not fully offset the decline in frozen pork (45,422 mt, -44 percent). Imports from Canada were also lower (91,555 mt, -16 percent) with a breakdown similar to the United States. Imports from Mexico (34,848 mt, +23 percent) and Chile (20,534 mt, +15 percent) were higher, with both primarily exporting frozen pork but also shipping some higher-value and value-added cuts – making it easier to meet Japan’s gate price.
Source: Global Trade Atlas and Japan Customs