Japan likely to extend best-before dates to boost pork exports

TOKYO, July 30 ― Japan is planning to extend best-before dates for pork products in a bit to boost chilled exports, informed sources have said.

The agriculture and health miniseries have set up a panel to look at hygienic controls abroad and review guidelines for setting best-before dates.

The first meeting of the panel was held on July 17, hearing from meat exporters.

The move coincides with the Japanese government’s goal, which aims to expand pork export value at 1.2 billion yen, or equivalent to 1,000 metric tons, by 2019.

Japan’s pork exports have been steadily increasingly over recent years, totaling 720 million yen, or 622 metric tons, in 2017. The industry would be counting more than ever on export growth to support sustain profitability.

But market access is a concern, because the best-before dates for vacuum-packed Japanese pork preserved at zero degrees has been set 20 days. That is far shorter than those of U.S. and Canadian chilled pork, which is set about 50 days.

Because of this system, more than 90 percent of Japanese pork exports are frozen pork shipped by sea, limiting their markets to neighboring countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

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