Japanese Meat Imports Will Recover

Japanese Meat Imports Will Recover

Most meat trade goes through areas unaffected by disaster.

Deutsche Bank analyst Christina McGlone predicts a near-term negative impact and intermediate-term boost for U.S. meat exports as Japan rebuilds following last Friday's 9.0 earth quake and resultant tsunami. According to McGlone, should rebuilding efforts provide a stimulus, protein demand could strengthen long-term. However, if higher energy prices and taxes to fund rebuilding result in slower long-term economic growth, protein demand will suffer.

Fortunately, for the Japanese people, most meat trade goes through Japan's southern ports. Of Japan's 12 major ports, it appears only two sustained major damage. News reports indicate the power grid is working in most areas with an ability to divert power to supply other areas as needed. Once on land, most meat imports will be diverted to areas where refrigeration is operating.

There are reports of local livestock destruction, which could temporarily boost the need for imported meat. The latest figures indicate Japan is the largest customer for U.S. beef and pork exports in terms of dollar value. Japan accounted for 30% of U.S. pork exports and 15% of U.S. beef exports last year. Just 2% of U.S. chicken exports went to Japan in 2010.

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