U.S. exports to Japan were year-over-year lower in the first 4 months of 2013. Since May, U.S exports to Japan have rebounded to year-over-year higher levels. Larger U.S shipments to Japan are occurring despite a sharply depreciated yen and slightly higher domestic pork production.

Japan’s pork consumption is heavily dependent on imports, however. Last year, for example, Japan imported almost half of its pork consumption. Faced with the imperative to import pork products—even at higher prices, due to Japan’s aggressively expansionary monetary policy—a goal of Japanese importers is to choose a low-priced exporter among all pork-exporting countries.

Larger U.S. exports to Japan since May are thus likely a result of the U.S. pork industry’s competitive status vis-à-vis other major foreign suppliers of pork to Japan (i.e., Canada and Denmark). Compared with that of other pork exporting countries competing in Japan, the U.S. processing sector is likely what makes the United States a lower cost supplier of pork to Japan.

The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report will be issued by USDA on September 27, 2013. The report’s inventory numbers are expected to indicate the potential effects of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians defines PED as follows:  

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) is a viral disease caused by a member of the family Coronaviridae. Although clinically similar to transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE), the virus is unrelated to TGE.. Introduction of PED virus into a naïve herd typically results in acute outbreaks of severe diarrhea, vomiting, high morbidity (often 100%), and variable mortality (some reports as high as 100% in young pigs). The incubation period is short (2-4 days) and natural immunity develops over two to three weeks, resulting in colostral protection for neonatal piglets. The virus spreads via the fecal-oral route and fomites….PEDV is not a listed disease of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE); is not considered a foreign animal disease in the United States; and there are currently no interstate trade restrictions pertaining to PEDV in U.S. swine. It is not a zoonotic disease, does not affect people, and is not a food safety concern.

The first 2013 occurrence of the disease was reported in mid-May. As of August 31, 2013, 17 U.S. States have reported outbreaks of PED, including Iowa and North Carolina. For more information see USDA\APHIS: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_dis_spec/swine/