August 6, 2018
Japan pork imports rebound in Q2; S. Korea up 15% in H1
Japanese pork imports have returned to modest growth in the second quarter, reaching 237,300 tonnes, up 2% year-on-year, in contrast to a 2% fall in the first quarter (220,100 tonnes). This means volumes for January-June overall were on par with 2017, AHDB Pork reports.
South Korea's pork imports, meanwhile, were up 15% year-on-year during the first half of 2018, at 294,400 tonnes.
The US remained the largest single-country supplier of pork to both Japan and South Korea, with shipments at 129,100 tonnes (68 billion Yen or US$611.68 million) and 107,600 tonnes, respectively, in the first half.
The US' pork exports to Japan in the first half were, however, 4% below year-earlier levels. "The situation for US suppliers to Japan looks unlikely to improve, as preferential market access is in the process of being implemented to key competitors", the pork division of the UK levy body Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board said.
It will be noted that Canadian pork will have lower tariffs when the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (the trade deal that emerged from the TPP after the US withdrew earlier this year) is ratified.
Equally, tariffs on EU products will be phased out under the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, negotiations for which were finalised last year.
Surprising import growth
South Korea's pork import growth was unexpected, but AHDB Pork said a contributing factor could be the country's inconsistent growth in domestic production. USDA had forecast a 3% growth in South Korean pork production in 2018, and indeed in the six months through June, slaughterings were 4% higher year-on-year. It was noted, however, that after a strong performance in January, slaughterings have since been quite variable, and averaged only 2% above year-earlier levels for February-June.
Spain has also cemented itself as a key pork supplier to the Japanese and South Korean markets this year. Spain's market share in Japan's pork imports during the period January-June increased to 13%. This reflects a 10% increase in shipments, which totalled 58,000 tonnes across the period.
Spain was the third-largest pork supplier of South Korea, shipping 36,700 tonnes during the first six months, up 11% on 2017.
Germany was the second-largest supplier, shipping 56,200 tonnes, down around 1%.