During the recent U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Strategic Planning Conference, USMEF Vice President of Marketing, Jesse Austin, updated pork producers and exporters on two product categories that are critical to U.S. pork’s success in Japan – chilled pork and ground seasoned pork. Joe Schuele has more details.
Japan has traditionally been the leading value market for U.S. pork, with chilled pork playing a major role. Chilled U.S. pork primarily competes with Canadian and domestic Japanese pork at the retail meat case. Jesse Austin notes that through September, Japan’s imports of chilled pork U.S. were slightly lower than a year ago while imports from Canada were up 3%. He explains that Japan’s retail space is especially competitive this year because Canada’s pork production is up nearly 5% from 2019 and some major Canadian plants are suspended from exporting to China – heightening their focus on the Japanese chilled pork market. But the U.S. still holds the largest share of the imported chilled market at 48%, slightly higher than Canada, with the remaining share mainly captured by Mexican pork. USMEF has upcoming promotions planned with both national and regional retailers aimed at further solidifying the United States’ position as Japan’s leading chilled pork supplier.
Japan is also an outstanding market for U.S. ground seasoned pork (GSP), which is derived mainly from boneless picnics. U.S. GSP exports to Japan slumped in 2019 because U.S. suppliers faced a significantly higher tariff rate than their Canadian and European counterparts. But the playing field was leveled this year through implementation of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, and U.S. GSP exports have staged a robust rebound, increasing 27% to nearly 78,000 metric tons, with value up 45% to $243 million, as the U.S. has captured GSP market share from Canada and Germany (Japan suspended imports of German pork in mid-September, but these gains predate that suspension). Austin explained that GSP is a key ingredient in many processed pork products in Japan, led by extremely popular arabiki sausages.
More information can be found on the USMEF website.