Japan’s Meat Imports Trend Lower in September

Japan-FPI-M Year-over-year, Japan imported less beef and pork in September. Total pork/pork variety meat imports were down 3 percent (to 75,795 mt) compared to September 2012, while beef/beef variety meat imports fell 13 percent (to 40,148 mt) despite a 25 percent increase in imports from the United States.

Despite increase in chilled trade, U.S. pork market share declines
The United States (5,621 mt, -29 percent) and Canada (3,631 mt, -60 percent) continued to see steep declines in frozen pork trade in September, with total frozen pork imports down 19 percent to 35,779 mt. Imports from the EU were down 4 percent to 19,156 mt, including a 29 percent decline from Denmark (10,480 mt). From January through September, larger volumes from the EU, Mexico and Chile have not fully offset the decreases from U.S. and Canada, putting total frozen imports down 14 percent to 333,415 mt. J-C-PI-M

An 11 percent increase in both chilled imports and ground seasoned pork (including increases from the U.S. and Canada) has helped fill the frozen void, putting total pork/pvm imports down 4 percent (708,158 mt) through September. The U.S. has lost market share, now holding 44.2 percent compared to 45.7 percent during the same period last year and 46 percent in 2011. Mexico, Chile and EU suppliers other than Denmark are gaining market share based on larger frozen volumes.

Frozen beef safeguard not triggered; volume in cold storage sharply higher
Japan’s frozen beef imports also declined (19,751 mt, -19 percent), due in part to an effort to avoid the triggering the import safeguard. (The safeguard was not triggered by imports from the July-September quarter. For a more complete explanation of Japan’s safeguard system, see the Aug. 2 edition of Export Newsline). But USMEF remains concerned about the large volumes of beef in cold storage (August volume up 26 percent year-over-year) and whether this suggests a trend of slower imports in coming months. Despite these factors, frozen beef imports from the United States (8,783 mt, +32 percent) were still higher in September while Australia was down sharply (8,813 mt, -36 percent). For January through September, Japan’s total frozen beef imports were up 5 percent to 242,213 mt, with U.S. up 57 percent (73,536 mt) and Australia down 12 percent (126,501 mt). J-MB-BVM-I

Imports of chilled U.S. beef up 22 percent through September
Total chilled beef imports were down 14 percent to 15,130 mt in September but imports from the U.S. were still slightly higher (6,470 mt, +1 percent) while Australia was down 18 percent to 8,055 mt. For January through September, chilled imports were up just 1 percent to 143,773 mt despite a significant increase from the U.S. (58,599 mt, +22 percent). Imports from Australia were down 9 percent to 77,859 mt. JCBI

The September increase in U.S. beef/beef variety meat (17,866 mt, +25 percent) only partially offset the decline from Australia (18,761 mt, -27 percent). January-September imports were up 5 percent to 450,381 mt, driven by a strong increase from the United States (161,031 mt, +41 percent). Imports from Australia (230,451 mt, -10 percent) and New Zealand (27,924 mt, -5 percent) were lower. U.S. market share increased from 27 percent last year to 37 percent, with Australia’s share declining from 60 percent to 54 percent.

Wagyu-Price Domestic Beef and Pork Prices Remain Higher than 2012
Japan’s domestic beef production was down 1.4 percent in Oct, and is expected to decline by 2.3 percent in Nov, based on ALIC estimates. Prices for Wagyu A-3 grade steers in Sept were up 20 percent from last year, in yen terms, and averaged $8.06 per pound. Prices for Holstein B-2 grade steers were up 30 percent and averaged $3.53 per pound.

Japan’s domestic pork production was up 1.5 percent in October, and ALIC expects steady production in November. Hog prices eased slightly in September but were still up 15 percent from last year (in yen terms) and averaged $2.36 per pound.