Pork producers across the nation are concerned about the impact of H1N1 Influenza on pork demand, both in the domestic and international markets. While some foreign markets have closed to US pork or imposed unnecessary trade restrictions, Japan remains fully open to pork imports.
The United States is the market share leader for imported pork in Japan, which is by far the largest value market for US pork exports. In 2008, Japan imported 996 million pounds of US pork valued at nearly $1.55 billion.
Through January and February of this year, exports to Japan have accelerated by 23% in volume and 35% in value over the same period last year.
Safety of pork
US Meat Export Federation Japan Director Gregory Hanes says the government of Japan has done an excellent job of educating consumers about the safety of pork, and easing any unfounded fears that may have associated H1N1 Influenza with pork consumption.
While the government’s actions have been very supportive, USMEF has also been extremely active in its efforts to maintain pork demand and prevent any loss of momentum for US pork in this critical export market.
These actions appear to be having a very positive impact on demand for US pork. Hanes says that while restaurant sales have slowed somewhat due to the sluggish economy, the H1N1 Influenza situation has had little negative impact.
Overall, Hanes feels Japan is once again proving its mettle as a very consistent and resilient market for US pork, and producers can be confident in its continued high performance.
• US Meat Export Federation