June 15, 2011


Japan's imported beef consumption increases



Japan's intake of imported beef during the month of April rose 21% on year, to 51,864 tonnes (boneless equivalent), the highest monthly volume since July 2005.


Along with consumption, stocks of imported beef also increased, jumping 21% on year, according to supply and demand data released by Japan's Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation.


The strong growth in imported beef consumption during April was largely due to a surge in beef imports from the US (up 71% on year to 10,784 tonnes swt), with US product continuing to benefit from the very weak US dollar. Supply chain disruption to the Japanese beef and pork industries after the March 11 earthquake may also have partly shifted the trade's focus from those proteins to imported beef.


While imported beef stocks at the end of April (at 71,248 tonnes, boneless equivalent) were not historically high, some traders anticipate that the beef inventory has further lifted since, largely due to slow beef demand after the Golden Week holiday (late April/early May).


Japanese domestic beef consumption totalled 30,948 tonnes (down 1% from 2010) during April, taking total beef consumption during the month to 82,812 tonnes (the largest since November 2010).


Even with the increased beef consumption in April, trade conditions for Australian exporters remained very tough, largely due to the combination of the robust Australian dollar and increased competition from US beef.

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