Japan’s meat imports set another record volume in 2018

TOKYO, Jan. 31 ― Japan’s meat imports hit a new high last year, breaking the record volume for the second consecutive year, government data has showed.

The 2017 full-year import figure already broke the 2 million metric ton barrier for the first time since records began in 1988, and the 2018 figure amounted to 2.09 million metric tons, according to the finance ministry.

Japanese farmers will likely face more influx of cheap meats this year as landmark trade deals, namely the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), have come into force.

By product, beef imports rose 6% to 607,458 metric tons in 2018 from a year earlier. That was the biggest volume since 2001 when Japan confirmed the country’s first case of mad cow disease in a Tokyo suburb and boost beef imports.

Australia especially boosted beef shipments to Japan, taking advantage of lower tariffs through its bilateral trade agreement with Tokyo. Australian beef amounted to 311,682 metric tons, up 8 percent from a year ago, while American beef rose 3% to 247,428 metric tons.

Pork imports amounted to 924,993 metric tons in 2018, as frozen volumes were below the previous year. But chilled pork performed well, marking a sixth straight year of record volumes.

Chicken imports fell 2% to 56,333 metric tons in 2018 from a year earlier, as shipments from Brazil dropped down 4 percent.

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