Japan is an important trading partner for U.S. agriculture, especially when it comes to beef and pork producers. That was the main topic of a panel discussion during the recent USDA Outlook Forum.
USMEF Economist Erin Borror says that Japan is the leading value destination for both U.S. beef and pork. 2018 exports are expected to reach $2.1 billion and $1.65 billion, respectively when year-end data is available.
She also warns that the competitive terrain in Japan has gotten much steeper for U.S. exports. That’s because of Japan’s potential trade agreements with Australia, the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, and Chile.
That situation will only get worse unless the United States can establish similar access to Japanese markets. The U.S. beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged a record $320.72 in 2018, shattering the previous high of $300.36 that was set in 2014.
Japan accounts for one-fourth of that total at $82.75 a head. That ratio is similar for U.S. pork, which averaged $51.46 per head slaughtered in 2018. Japan accounted for 26 percent of the total per-head value.