JAPAN - Although much of the world’s attention has been on China, it was not the only Asian market taking more pork in early 2016. Japan too increased its intake in the first three months of the year by over 20 per cent, compared with the same period last year.
At 209,000 tonnes, its purchases were the highest for this time of year in records back to 1994, although China overtook it as the world’s leading importer during the period.
As in China, EU exporters have been the major beneficiaries, with shipments up 40 per cent year on year, raising the EU’s market share to 37 per cent, up from 32 per cent in January-March 2015.
All the other major suppliers sent more pork to Japan too, although growth was generally slower.
The increased imports have allowed stock levels to rebuild from unusually low levels seen at the end of last year. This suggests that import demand may ease off as we move further through the year.
There are already signs of this happening, with annual growth slowing from 36 per cent in January to just 10 per cent in March.
Nevertheless, with demand still reasonable and domestic production only recovering slowly following 2014’s PEDv outbreak, imports are forecast by USDA to grow for the year as a whole, albeit at a slower rate than in the first quarter.
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