From April through October, Japan’s domestic beef production was down 1.6 percent compared to the same period in 2012, at 204,304 mt. October ending inventories of imported beef remained large, up 29 percent from a year ago to 120,032 mt. Inventories of domestic beef were down 17 percent to 13,503 mt. Domestic slaughter for April through October totaled 682,556 head, down 0.8 percent from a year ago. But within the wagyu breed, slaughter was down 1.7 percent (to 300,887 head), including a 5 percent drop in steers (149,252 head) that was partially offset by an increase in cow and heifer slaughter. So there is likely modest contraction underway in the wagyu herd, after several years of modest growth. Wagyu carcass prices continued to move steadily higher in November, up 13 percent year-over-year (in yen terms) and averaging $8.44 per pound.
Japan’s beef/beef variety meat imports in November totaled 54,232 mt, up 20 percent from a year ago. This included strong increases from the United States (21,126 mt, +79 percent) and Canada (1,702 mt, +44 percent). Australia was still the largest supplier in November, but imports were up only slightly (28,358 mt, +2 percent) from a year ago. November chilled imports were up 13 percent to 16,400 mt, including a significant increase from the U.S. (6,991 mt, +22 percent). Chilled imports from Australia were sharply lower (8,645 mt, -29 percent). Frozen imports in November were up 49 percent to 32,647 mt with large increases for the U.S. (11,465 mt, +141 percent) and Australia (17,821 mt, +31 percent). December marks the end of the third quarter of the Japanese fiscal year and the close of another critical month for the frozen beef safeguard. USMEF expects that importers again avoided triggering the safeguard, as December imports needed to be less than 28,743 mt. (This total is 41 percent larger than the December 2012 frozen import volume.)
From January through November, Japan’s total imports were up 5.5 percent to 555,907 mt, with increases from the U.S. (202,313 mt, +45 percent) and Canada (14,244 mt, +18 percent) offsetting smaller imports from Australia (284,914 mt, -10 percent) and New Zealand (31,196 mt, -6 percent).
Japan’s domestic pork production from April through October was up 2 percent to 522,773 mt, while imports were down 5 percent to 433,691 mt. October ending inventories were down 11 percent to 161,528 mt, including a 12 percent decline in imported pork (141,197 mt, the lowest since October 2011). Japan’s domestic hog carcass prices moved seasonally higher in November, averaging $2.20 per pound (+22 percent from a year ago in yen terms).
Japan’s pork/pork variety meat imports in November totaled 81,376 mt, down 2 percent from a year ago. This included lower totals from the U.S. (35,259 mt, -4 percent) and Canada (14,189 mt, -9 percent), but larger volumes from the EU (20,631 mt, +15 percent) and Mexico (5,694 mt, +26 percent). Chilled imports in November were up 3 percent to 24,389 mt, with an increase from Canada (7,942 mt, +19 percent) offsetting lower imports from the U.S. (15,767 mt, -3 percent).
For January through November, imports were down 4 percent to 876,033 mt, with smaller volumes from the U.S. (386,526 mt, -6 percent) and Canada (149,462 mt, -15 percent) being only partially offset by larger imports from the EU (216,954 mt, +4 percent), Mexico (59,088 mt, +26 percent) and Chile (32,277 mt, +2 percent). Smaller frozen volumes from the U.S. (76,097 mt, -39 percent) have only been partially offset by larger volumes of chilled (180,910 mt, +8 percent) and ground seasoned pork (95,861 mt, +11 percent).
Sources: Import data from Global Trade Atlas; domestic data from Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation (ALIC)