UNITED KINGDOM, London. In total Japan imported 351,000 t of beef in the first half of 2020, a 4% increase over last year. The United States and Australia typically vie for market share, and each supply around 40-45% of Japan’s import needs. The US has been increasing its volumes and has supplied 151,000 t of beef to Japan so far this year, 9% more than in the same period of 2019.
South Korea is another market unsurprisingly dominated by US and Australian suppliers. In the first half of 2020, there was a 1% drop in beef imports compared with 2019, to 250,000 t. Here again the US has been increasing its market share.
Of course, China dominates imported beef demand in the Asian region. This is driven in the short term by its need for imported protein in the wake of African Swine Fever, but also longer term by growing national per capita income.
In the first half of 2020, Chinese trade data shows imports of over 1 mill. t of beef, 41% more than a year ago. South American beef has the greatest market share, with Brazil at 35%, Argentina 22% and Uruguay 12%. China’s imports from Brazil, in particular, have grown by 134% year on year to 350,000 t; this trend may well be set to continue as Brazil deals with coronavirus and its huge internal market for beef contracts.
Moving forwards the Asian market is likely to continue to be dominated by the US and South American countries. Recently Australia has been sending a greater share of its exports to the US itself, reducing the quantities going to either Japan and China. As Australia rebuilds its herd following a prolonged period of drought, it is likely that export volumes overall will continue to decline for a while.