Demand for U.S. pork may pick up in the second and third quarters of 2011, according to Altin Kalo, economist, Steiner Consulting, Manchester, N.H. Demand in key U.S. export markets remains exceptionally strong, partly due to reduced pork supplies being delivered by the European Union and Brazil.

Kalo also sees Japan imports rising through the second and third quarters of 2011. “I expect to see exports to Japan accelerate,” said Kalo in comments delivered following release of the USDA Hogs and Pigs Report Friday. “I expect that demand for pork in Japan will improve in the short term.”

Pork is second only to fish and seafood in consumption of major proteins for many Japanese consumers. Due to the earthquake and resulting damage to nuclear reactors, safety of seafood has been called into question and Kalo sees the possibility of pork demand increasing.

Japan is currently the number 1 export market in value terms for the U.S. pork industry posting the best year ever in 2010 with sales of $1.65 billion.

About half of the pork consumed in Japan comes from imported product and half comes from their domestic production, says Daniel Bluntzer, director of research for Frontier Risk Management, Corpus Christi, Texas. “Because of the interruption to their domestic pork production caused by the earthquake and tsunami, the resulting void in Japan’s pork supply will have to be filled by imports.”