Japan Increases Pork Imports as PED Outbreaks Continue

JAPAN - Outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) continue to be reported, the latest in Ehime prefecture. With well over one million pigs lost to the disease, domestic pork supplies are becoming short and more expensive and so Japan is looking to imports to meet demand.
calendar icon 21 July 2014
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Last week, around 330 piglets died from PEDv at a farm in Saijo in Ehime prefecture in northwestern Shikoku, according to Ehime NP. This was the seventh outbreak in the prefecture but losses are expected to be lower this time as pigs on the farm have been vaccinated; this was not the case on farms where previous outbreaks have occurred. About 70 per cent of farms in region have been vaccinated since mid-May.

The report continues that, after an absence of seven years, the first outbreak of PED in Japan occurred in October 2013 on the southern island of Okinawa. The first outbreak in Ehime prefecture was confirmed in April 2014. Supplies of the vaccine are reported to have been insufficient as the disease spread so quickly across the country.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Japanese pork production may be down by as much as five per cent for the last three months of this year due to PED. This is pushing up the price of local pork and increasing demand for imports, said Kenji Morita, director at the ministry’s meat and egg division in Tokyo.

Pork imports for the first five months of this year were up by almost eight per cent to more than 331,000 tons, according to Japan's ministry of agriculture.

The US is the leading exporter of pork to Japan, according to the US Meat Export Federation. The latest statistics - for the first five months of 2014, show Japan imported more than 780,000 tonnes of US pork, which is two per cent more than in the same period of 2013 and the value of that trade was up three per cent.

For the month of May 2014, the volume of US pork imported by Japan was 37,880 tonnes or seven per cent more than the same month of last year, while the value of those imports was 11 per cent higher at US$177.5 million.

Total PED cases in Japan have now reached 1.17 million, including more than 343,000 deaths, according to Japan's ministry’s animal health division, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. Outbreaks have occurred in Kagoshima and Miyazaki, the country's top pig-producing prefectures, as well as other regions.

By the end of April 2014, 55 PED outbreaks in 33 outbreak clusters involving 381 pigs had been reported by the Japanese ministry of agriculture to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). In early May, the ministry reported to OIE that the disease was 'unlikely to be contained and is now considered to be endemic'.

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