May 17, 2023


Nearly 14% growth for Japan's pork imports expected by 2028




Researchers with the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) are forecasting Japan's pork imports to increase between 3.6% and 13.9% by 2028 due to the country's trade agreements in place.


Based upon the Global Trade Analysis Project model, the researchers estimate this uptick could lead to an additional US$281 million of US pork exports being shipped to the country.


Japan currently produces 50% of the pork that it consumes through domestic production. However, ERS pointed out that could soon change as domestic pork producers face increased competition from foreign competitors, putting downward pressure on the country's pork industry and forcing producers out of the business. In the next six years, Japan's pork production is predicted to drop between 4.2% and 11.8%.

Authors Eric Davis, Ethan Sabala, Dylan Russell and Jayson Beckman noted that changes in Japan's recent trade agreements could boost the competitiveness of trade partners in the country's pork market. Japan has ratified trade agreements with the United States, European Union and United Kingdom. The country also has Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in place with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.


"This potential boost in foreign competitiveness could result in lower domestic production, higher import volumes and thus increased availability of lower-cost foreign pork for Japanese consumers."


The researchers noted these changes can be seen in the following model estimates that assume the gate price system imposes a burden equal to a 10% ad valorem tariff. The estimated changes in value in 2028, relative to the 2018 baseline, are:


    - By 2028, Japan's pork imports would increase by 3.6% for carcasses and half-carcasses, 12.2% for unprocessed meat cuts and 13.9% for processed pork products;


    - Japan's domestic production would decrease by 4.2%, 11.6% and 11.8% for carcasses and half-carcasses, unprocessed meat cuts and processed pork products, respectively;


    - Total pork exports to Japan would increase in value by US$281.0 million, US$244.5 million, US$232.8 million and US$0.21 million for the US, EU, CPTPP and UK, respectively;


    - Most of these export gains to Japan would come from the unprocessed pork sector, with gains of US$168.6 million, US$201.3 million, US$210.5 million and US$0.21 million for the US, EU, CPTPP and UK, respectively;

    - The remainder of the gains would primarily be from the processed pork sector, with an additional US$112.3 million, US$43.1 million and US$22.3 million in exports from the US, EU and CPTPP, respectively. The UK does not currently compete in this sector;


    - The carcass and half-carcass sector is extremely small, and export increases in this sector would only have a marginal impact on the total pork exports of each country;


    - Societal well-being of the US, CPTP and EU would increase by US$59.3 million, US$32.8 million and US$17.8 million, respectively.


Additionally, the researchers examined the outlook for US pork exports — if the US-Japan Trade Agreement did not exist and the US was subject to Japan's World Trade Organization gate price tariff system.


"In this hypothetical scenario, results indicate that the United States would lose a large portion of its market share to Japan's other trade agreement partners, with the 2028 US market share falling from 34% to 23%. The total value of US pork exports to Japan also would decline by US$385.9 million from 2018 levels."


- National Hog Farmer

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