Japan increases butter imports

By RICHARD SMITH

For the Capital Press

Japan will increase its butter imports this year.

TOKYO — Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will import an additional 7,000 metric tons of frozen butter for commercial use.

The country’s first emergency butter imports in two years will be its biggest on record.

MAFF decided on the move to stabilize prices amid a domestic shortage of the dairy product, the ministry said on its Japanese-language website.

Japan’s milk production has dwindled due to last year’s sweltering summer and a decline in the number of dairy farmers, the Kyodo news service reported.

In the Uruguay Round that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization, Japan committed to “minimum access” import purchases for designated dairy commodities of up to 137,000 metric tons in milk equivalent calculation, including butter, nonfat dry milk, whey, butter oil and dairy spreads.

Japan purchases the products through the Agriculture Livestock and Industry Corporation, a state trading enterprise.

The 7,000 tons of butter Japan plans to import will be in addition to its minimum access dairy purchases for this fiscal year.

Also because of its milk shortage, Japan will import 4,178 tons of NFDM under its minimum access commitment, MAFF said.

Imports will be made with a view to getting the butter to food producers by the end of November in time for the Christmas cake rush, Kyodo reported.

MAFF milk and dairy products division deputy director Yasue Fujioka told Capital Press bids for tenders for butter will be taken on June 3 and 12.

Fujioka said tenders will be accepted on a lowest price basis.

“Of course, lowest quality products will not be accepted, but price is the basis for acceptance,” she said.

Japan Dairy Industry Association managing director Tetsuo Ishihara told Capital Press his country will also need to make extra purchases of butter in the next fiscal year.

“We will continue facing a shortage of milk for butter and NFDM,” Ishihara said.



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