Pork Exports to Japan Hold Signs of Encouragement

During the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s Strategic Planning conference in mid-November, USMEF Vice President of Marketing Jesse Austin provided pork producers with an update on two areas that are critical for success in Japan: chilled pork and ground seasoned pork.

Austin said through September, Japan’s imports of chilled America pork were slightly lower year over year, while Canada’s imports increased three percent.

But, as you look between the numbers…

“Canadian production was up 4.6 percent this year, and they have multiple plants delisted for China. So, they are under tremendous pressure to keep chilled pork moving to Japan, and we expect to continue to battle at the retail case.  However, I do want to point out we still hold the largest market share of chilled pork in Japan; currently around 48 percent.”

Austin added Japan is also an enormous market for U.S. ground seasoned pork, which is derived mainly from boneless picnics.

American GSP exports to Japan slumped in 2019 because, as he put it, U.S. suppliers faced a significantly higher tariff rate than their Canadian and European counterparts.

“Meanwhile, U.S. volume is actually up 27 percent [to nearly 78,000 metric tons], coming largely at the expense of Germany and Canada.  We represent roughly 73 percent of the market share in the GSP business, a significant jump from 53 percent a year ago.”

Austin says they will continue to watch the numbers come in from competitors to see if more and more producers across the country are trying to meet the demand in Japan, rather than focus so heavily on potential market share in China.