(Mainichi: January 14, 2015 – p. 2)
By Masashi Taguchi
Japan’s exports of food and farm produce for 2014 are expected to set a new record, a government report says.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries released data on Jan. 13 showing that shipments of food and farm produce rose 11.1% on the year to 548.2 billion yen for the eleven months through November. They are projected to surpass the previous full-year record of 550.5 billion yen marked in 2013 after December figures are added.
Exports of farm products, including processed items, for the January-November period came to 318.3 billion yen, those of seafood reached 211 billion yen, and those of forest products came to 19 billion yen. Exports in December also stayed solid. “Full-year figures may hit 600 billion yen,” said a ministry official.
By item, beef saw a 41.4% hike in shipments, valued at 7.1 billion yen. In volume terms, its exports rose 37.2% to 1081 tons, topping 1,000 tons for the first time in a full year. The increase has been driven by growing popularity of quality wagyu Japanese beef among high-income consumers overseas. The European Union’s resumption of Japanese beef imports, which had been banned since the outbreak of mad cow disease, also played a part.
Exports of vegetables and fruits grew 28.5%, with rice and other grains at 21.4%.
In 2011 and 2012, exports of Japanese farm products and other foods dropped to around 450 billion yen due to the Fukushima nuclear accident caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Figures improved substantially and reached a record 550.5 billion yen in 2013. The trend has likely continued through 2014, which is expected to hit a new record for two years in a row.
The government sets a goal of increasing Japanese food exports to 1 trillion yen by 2020 as part of its growth strategy. It is planning to promote exports in collaboration with industry bodies and food processors.