TOKYO — New Zealand will supply the lion’s share of butter as Japan buys addition supplies to bolster its flagging production.
Japan’s Agriculture Livestock and Industry Corporation, a state trading enterprise, selected bids June 3 for 2,407.2 tons of frozen butter out of a total request for tenders for 2,800 tons.
The Netherlands, the only other country selected, won bids for the remaining 392.8 tons.
ALIC will select bids for an addition 4,200 tons of butter June 12.
Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced May 21 it would import 7,000 tons of butter for commercial use this fiscal year.
Kyodo News Agency reported the country’s first emergency butter imports in two years are its biggest on record.
MAFF decided on the move to stabilize prices amid a domestic shortage of the 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 farms.
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.
The commodities include butter, non-fat dry milk, edible whey, butter oil and dairy spreads. Japan purchases the products through ALIC.
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 non-fat dry milk under its minimum access commitment, MAFF said.
The extra imports of butter will be made with a view to getting the product 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 tenders are accepted on a lowest price basis.
“Of course, lowest quality products will not be accepted, but price is the basis for acceptance,” Fujioka 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.