Canadian Pork Exports To Japan Seen Rising

by 5m Editor
27 May 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Canadian pork exports to Japan are increasing, in part because of a Canadian advertising campaign and pressures on the domestic Japanese industry, according to Statistics Canada.

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Overall Canadian pork exports to all destinations, as of March 31, were down slightly on the year, Stats Canada said. In the first three months of 2004 Canada exported 230.354 million kilograms of pork to all destinations, which compares to 235.699 million kilograms at the same point a year ago, according to Stats Canada. Exports to Canada's largest customer, the U.S., dropped to 102.436 million kilograms, from 109.300 million at the same point the previous year.

While the U.S. is still the largest customer for Canadian pork, "we have been decreasing the importance of the U.S. in our overall mix," said Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council. He added the U.S. itself is becoming a major exporter, competing against Canada in the world market.

Canada is now turning its attention to other markets, such as Japan. Year-to-date Canadian pork exports to Japan were more than 1 million kilograms above the year-ago level, as of March 31, at 53.993 million kilograms, according to StatsCan.

While official numbers were unavailable, Rice said exports in April and May should be considerably higher.

"We've seen quite an improvement in export conditions, particularly in Japan," he said. "The (Japanese) interest in Canadian pork has increased quite significantly over the past few months, and we expect that to be sustained."

Some of the increase is the result of the substitution of pork over beef on concerns over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the cattle sector, according to Rice. In addition, Japanese production has declined because of increased feed costs.

The economics of pork production are more favorable for North America than Japan, or other potential exporters, said Rice.

In terms of quality, Canadian pork is very good, he said, adding that the industry needs to work on increasing the profile of Canadian pork in the Japanese market.

In the past there was no need to differentiate between Canadian and Japanese pork, but now the country of origin must be prominently displayed on all pork sold in Japan, said Rice.

The Canadian Pork Council started a generic advertising campaign in March reminding the Japanese of the things that would make them think positively about Canada, and in turn, Canadian pork, he said. The campaign features magazine and transit advertisements. In late April, the Canadian Pork Council held information seminars in Tokyo and Osaka.

"Japanese pork carries a very significant premium to anything imported," said Rice. "But Canadian pork stands the best chance of being discounted the least, relative to the domestic product."

Canadian pork is considered to be the closest in terms of quality to the domestic Japanese product, he added.

Canadian pork exports have also increased to other Asian markets, such as China and Taiwan. However, the emphasis in those regions is less on quality skeletal cuts and more on the trimmings and byproducts, according to Rice.

In 2003, Canada exported 191.895 million kilograms of pork to Japan, 22.2% of total Japanese imports. Rice said the exports were valued at C$684 million, or roughly a quarter of the total Canadian pork exports for the year.

Source: eFeedLink - 27th May 2004

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