According to the study on the pig market in Japan published by ICEX Spain Export and Investment, this is particularly relevant because, as indicated by the FAO statistics, this country is the world's largest importer of pork and the fifth importer of pork sausages.
Japan is one of the most agriculturally dependent amongst the developed countries, and is ranked 15th in the world ranking of pig producers, pork reaching the eleventh position in quantity and fifth in value amid the main agricultural and livestock products in the country. However, domestic production is insufficient to meet Japanese demand itself, since consumption of pork has experienced a positive trend in recent years that has placed it as the second most consumed meat throughout the country.
By types of meat, Spain escalated in rank from 14th in 2004 to 5th in value in 2013 as a supplier of fresh and frozen pork to Japan. 2014 has consolidated this position with a market share of 7.86%, and is still the country that has experienced the biggest growth. It grows at a steady pace, from 5.1% in 2013, to 3.8% in 2012, to 1.4% in 2009. As per ham, it remains today in the lead as importer of bone-in ham and occupies the second position, after Italy, as importer of boned ham.
Spain's main competitors in the market for fresh and chilled meat are the US, Denmark, Canada, Mexico and Chile (the latter two countries having signed several free trade agreements with Japan). With regard to ham, the main rival for market share is Italy.
With regard to demand, the trend in Japan towards the consumption of meat products, which are normally eaten as a single dish, and their greater concern about health, have made products low in fat and salt become fashionable. Products made from Iberian pork seem to enjoy great potential in the Japanese market, since there are multiple possibilities for consumption, either as part of the daily lunch, or as food tasting tapas. However, the best known product for the general public is Iberian ham, which is limited to smaller population areas.
September 2015/ ICEX/ Spain.