October 9, 2003



Japan - Largest Importer of US Pork in 2002-03


"The top market for U.S. pork continues to be Japan which in 2002, purchased more than 270,000 metric tons at a value of $848 million," said Curtis Meier, a producer from Clarinda and President of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. "Japan's purchases exceeded more than one-half of the total value of worldwide purchases of U.S. pork."

In 2002, U.S. pork exports grew worldwide by 3.4% in volume to more than 727,000 metric tons. This growth follows the previous year's increase of 21%. According to Sam Carney, a producer from Adair and Chair of the IPPA's Foreign Market Development Committee, it was the 11th consecutive record-setting year for U.S. pork exports in terms of volume.

In terms of value, 2002 was not as bright since $1.50 billion of pork was exported from the U.S. as compared to $1.55 billion in 2001 and $1.34 billion in 2000. "Even though last year was a 3.2% reduction in value, the sales of U.S. pork worldwide were $933 million more than ten years ago," said Meier.

Iowa pork could be competitive in its pricing due to modern packaging processes, high levels of hygiene in Iowa pork plants and the use of containerized shipping to export customers.


"Pork from Iowa can be shipped as fresh chilled pork by ocean freight to Japan," said Meier. "Chilled pork has a shelf life that allows it to be served as fresh pork on the tables of Japanese consumers."


When chilled pork is placed in a refrigerated freight container in Iowa, the container is usually not opened until it reaches its destination. The internal temperature of the container is constantly monitored and recorded during transportation.

Officials are estimating that sales of pork to Japan will decrease in 2003 due to the implementation of the "safeguard", which is a Japanese tariff plan that goes into effect to protect Japanese pork producers when imports rise above a certain level in comparison to the previous year. The "safeguard" was triggered in August.

"Some of the larger meat companies in Japan have facilities in Iowa to help source their pork," said Carney. "Additionally, several trade teams from other countries are hosted by the IPPA annually. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, product representing about one of every 12 hogs raised in the U.S. is exported."
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