At the U.S. Meat Export Federation Strategic Planning Conference, USMEF Vice President of Marketing Jessie Austin updated pork producers and exporters on two key areas that are driving U.S. pork exports to Japan — chilled pork and ground seasoned pork.
"We look at the year-to-date situation, total chilled imports into Japan up 2%. U.S. chilled pork volume off slightly at 1% below last year, while Canada has actually increased 3% year-over-year," Austin says. "I do want to add some context to this trend. Canadian production this year up 4.6%, and they have multiple plants delisted for China, so they are under tremendous pressure to keep chilled pork moving to Japan and we expect a continued battle at the retail case."
However, Austin points out the United States still holds the largest market share in chilled pork to Japan, currently around 48%.
"Ground seasoned pork, typically produced from boneless picnics, is a crucial volume driver for our total Japan exports," Austin says. "Total imported GSP going into Japan through September down a percent. Meanwhile, U.S. volume is actually up 27%, coming largely at the expense of Germany and Canada. We represent roughly 73% of the market share in the GSP business."
Austin says that is a significant jump for the United States, which only had 53% of the business a year ago.
"Sixty percent of processed pork in Japan is arabiki-style sausages and sales are up for this product line," Austin says. "What's driving this is the retail surge that we've seen globally, this trend towards convenience products."
While this momentum is promising, Austin cautions that the industry needs to keep an eye on GSP production from competitors.
"September imports of GSP from all of our competitors was the largest we've seen since October 2019," Austin says. "Starting and stopping GSP operation is not a quick process. Facilities have to be brought up to speed. Labor force has to be trained, so we're going to continue to monitor this trend, and see if possibly some of these competitors are getting back into this space after having shifted their focus towards China productions."