UK enters Japanese poultry market

Poultry meat consumption has risen steadily in Japan in recent decades and the nation still imports around 40% of its chicken meat supply. The UK is now entering the market.

Although much of the poultry imported into Japan has come from low-cost suppliers in Brazil, Thailand and China in the past, the country also imports substantial amounts of frozen chicken legs and turkey from the US. Last year, the USDA said it exported US$75 million worth of poultry and eggs to Japan, making the country its 14th largest overseas market.

And now, the UK is entering the Japanese market thanks to a new market access deal that the industry estimates could be worth £10 million over the next 5 years.

A deal was secured 2 years ago but due to avian influenza outbreaks, restrictions until now have limited trade. The latest agreement enables smoother trade of cooked poultry meat.

The impact of future bird flu outbreaks

Japan is also a valuable market for UK breeding poultry, with a further market access agreement secured in recent weeks. The agreement ensures that any future avian influenza outbreaks only lead to temporary restrictions on exports from affected areas, rather than a countrywide ban. The deal will allow Japanese companies to continue to have access to UK high-grade stock.

Dr Jorge Martin-Almagro, UK deputy chief veterinary officer, said the market access agreement was a positive step forward for the UK poultry sector and is testament to the quality of the meat being produced. “In the face of ongoing challenges posed by avian influenza, it is a real achievement to have secured a deal which allows the exports of these valuable UK poultry products.”

Richard Griffiths, British Poultry Council chief executive: “We thank the Defra market access team and all government officials involved for securing exciting opportunities for BPC members, putting food on every table round the world despite the big challenges at hand, including successful negotiations of regionalisation for highly pathogenic avian influenza.”

The first to be registered

Moy Park, one of the UK’s largest poultry meat producers, is the first to be officially registered to export cooked poultry to Japan from its base in Grantham, Lincolnshire, following a visit by Japanese inspectors in March.

Beatriz Curran, international business development manager at Moy Park, said she was confident that the company could grow the export opportunity even further across its facilities.