Pork trade to remain strong in Japan in 2024 - GAIN

High demand, competitive pricing driving sales
calendar icon 13 October 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Tokyo projects that Japan’s pork imports will be steady in 2024, due in part to competitive pricing of frozen pork sustains high demand by food processors as well as the hotel and restaurant sectors, according to a recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN.

Japan’s pork imports in 2023 are dipping below 2022 levels, which had spiked with imports of discounted Spanish frozen pork. Imports of chilled pork are balanced with current demands: some of the substitution from beef to pork is offset by higher import costs resulting from the weak yen in 2022 and 2023. 

On the other hand, high domestic carcass prices also drive demand to use imported pork, so import demand should remain strong through the end of 2023.

Imports of prepared pork products in the first six months of 2023 are flat year on year, but Tokyo projects growth ahead in 2023 and 2024 as tariff cuts take effect, especially for ground seasoned pork, which is mainly intended for sausage manufacturing. 

Other meat processors also benefit from reduction of import duties: countries that enjoy the benefits of reduced import tariffs under Japan’s major economic partnership agreements (EPAs) include: the United States under the US -Japan Trade Agreements (USJTA); Canada and Mexico under the CPTPP; and Denmark and the Netherlands under the Japan - EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEUEPA). 

The tariff on ground seasoned pork, which was 20% of a base rate, started to decline for CPTPP members in December 2018; for EU members in February 2019; and for the United States in January 2020. Such a tariff is treated at the same level now for all member countries of the three trade agreements. 

For ground seasoned pork, those tariffs became zero on April 1, 2023. As a result, imports from April through June in 2023 spiked 19% year on year.

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