March 14, 2022


Lower pork production expected for Japan in 2022



Japan's 2022 pork production is projected to be lower slightly from 2021, while an expected strong retail demand will be met by more imports this year.


A bigger volume of the country's pork production and slower rebuilding of the hog population in 2021 have led to the lowering of sow starting stocks in 2022. As a result, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) expects Japan's pig numbers and pork production this year to be lesser than originally forecast.


Stable household demand for pork in the country pushed 2021 carcass prices above pre-COVID-19 levels in 2019. Despite the market risk caused by the pandemic, hog operators responded to strong prices by expanding hog slaughter and pork production by just over 1%. (16,836,873 head and 1,318,125 tonnes cwt of pork in 2021).


The strong market for pork production persists despite problems with classical swine fever (CSF). Even with a CSF vaccination programme, some 100,000 head needed to be culled in 2021.


Programmes to rebuild Japan's hog population with imported breeding sows have been under way since 2018, but 2021 global freight congestion has delayed implementation, and the country's imports of breeding swine in 2021 trended slower than 2020. As a result, the pace of slaughter exceeded the pace of stock rebuilding.


Recovering demand for pork in the food service industries, together with a continued steady retail demand, suggests a strong market for pork consumption.


High prices for beef may also drive greater demand for pork, which leads the USDA to increase projections for Japan's pork consumption in 2022. While almost flat in 2021 from 2020, more in-home cooking pushed pork consumption higher than before the pandemic, by about 8% for fresh or frozen pork, and 4% for processed products.


Japan's pork imports are expected to be slightly higher to balance expected lower domestic pork production in 2022. However, growth in demand may exceed supplies owing to global supply chain disruptions.


As a result, the USDA anticipates that ending stocks of Japanese importers in 2022 will end lower.


Japan's 2021 imports of chilled pork slightly exceeded 2019 levels, but frozen pork imports declined by a greater volume, making imports in 2021 still lower than 2019.


In the end, Japan's domestic ending stocks in 2021 were drawn lower on strong demand and slower imports. The USDA expects that situation will continue for at least the first half of 2022.


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