By Sara Brown
If you have been glued to coverage of Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami, and wondering how the devastation will be impacting agricultural trade, you are not alone.
“The area most impacted by Japan’s earthquake and tsunami represents only about 2% of the country’s population and only about 2% of the country’s gross domestic product,” says U.S. Meat Export Federation(USMEF) CEO Phillip Seng.
“What the area does produce is 16% of the nation’s pork, 12% of the nation’s beef and 15% of the nation’s poultry,” Seng explains in an online audio report
. “Which means there will obviously be a shortage without that production in Japan.”
Feeding Japan. In the wake of such tragedy, USMEF has developed a two-phased Japan Relief Program to engage a broad range of the U.S. agricultural community in providing support for Japanese citizens affected by the March 11 natural disaster.
With an estimated half-million or more Japanese people left homeless in the aftermath of the disaster, there is an immediate need for essentials such as water and blankets, as well as a continuing need for food for those who will be displaced long-term.
USMEF has stepped forward to be the umbrella group to organize the U.S. red meat industry to provide food to Japanese residents in need. It is expected that food shortages will continue in disaster areas well into the summer.
The National Pork Board (NPB) has allocated $100,000 from the Pork Checkoff to purchase pork products for distribution in Japan. USMEF, through its Tokyo office, will work with Japanese processors and distributors to ensure that the product reaches consumers in need.
Background: While this sets the stage for the U.S. to meet or exceed export projections for Japan this year, USMEF isn’t focused solely on a possibility of increased exports. Japan is arguably the key export market for U.S. red meat exports and the grains and oilseeds that support them.
In recent years, Japan has been the top export customer for U.S. pork. In 2010, Japan purchased nearly 1 billion pounds of U.S. pork valued at $1.6 billion. Japan also was the No. 3 market for U.S. beef, purchasing more than 274 million pounds of product valued at nearly $640 million.
Every pound of U.S. pork exported represents the utilization of 1.3 lb. of U.S. soybeans through feed, while every pound of U.S. beef represents the utilization of 5.7 lb. of U.S. corn.
Organizations interested in partnering in the USMEF Japan Relief Program can contact John Hinners at 303-249-2954 (mobile) or 303-226-7318 (office) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org