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Stimulating Japanese Imports of North American Pork

by 5m Editor
22 November 2011, at 10:01am

JAPAN - A US-based agricultural economist expects improvements in the Japanese economy and greater concerns over food safety to stimulate increased sales of North American pork into Japan.

Increased exports are credited for helping restore the profitability of the North American pork industry.

Dr James Mintert, an agricultural economics professor with Purdue University, notes Japan, the largest export customer for US pork, has taken roughly 29 percent of US pork exports so far this year and he's optimistic there's room for continued growth for a couple of reasons.

Dr James Mintert-Purdue University

One is prospects for some modest improvement in their economy and we have a lot of evidence from around the world that as consumers' incomes go up they like to put more animal protein in their diet and pork is going to be a beneficiary of that.

Then the other one is somewhat of an unknown at this point but one of the concerns that you have to have about the food supply in Japan is what are going to be the implications of the tsunami and the impact on the nuclear power plants over there on the food supply.

There's some concern on the part of Japanese consumers about what impact that's had on food safety.

That's probably even more important in Japan than it might be here in Canada or in the US because Japanese consumers over time have provided a lot of evidence that they are even more concerned about food safety than US and Canadian consumers are and so it remains to be seen how that manifests itself but there is some possibility that Japanese consumers' perceptions of food safety with respect to imported meat products in particular and pork especially might change over time and there's a chance that the industry in North America could benefit from perhaps increased demand associated with that for pork products coming out of the North American continent.

Dr Mintert adds US pork exports to all destinations have been up 14 to 15 percent from last year and are about 54 percent higher than 2007.