Seafood Imports in Japan Remain Below Pre-COVID Levels for Four Consecutive Years

Japan's seafood imports

Japan’s seafood imports have witnessed a consistent decline over the past four years, staying below the pre-pandemic levels, as reported by the Japanese Ministry of Finance. The year 2023 marked another year of reduced import volume, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by the seafood industry in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Continued Decline in Seafood Imports

In 2023, Japan imported 1.86 million tons of aquatic products, a 5% decrease from the previous year. This downturn represents the fourth consecutive year where imports have fallen below the 2 million ton mark, a level that was standard before the pandemic.

Import Value and Average Prices

The total import value of Japanese seafood in the last year was 1.8 trillion yen (about 12.3 billion US dollars), which is a 6% decrease from 2022. The average import price also saw a slight decline, dropping from 992 yen/kg in 2022 to 982 yen/kg in 2023.

Import Value and Average Prices

While there has been an overall decrease in import volumes, the trends vary among different exporting regions. Notably, seafood imports from the United States saw a 4% increase to 238,000 tons, with the import value also rising by 1% to 148 billion yen. In contrast, imports from the European Union decreased by 14% to 370,000 tons, even though the import value witnessed a slight increase of 1% to 70 billion yen.

Asian Countries as Major Suppliers

Asian countries collectively supplied 931,000 tons, showing a 5% decrease in import volume. Despite this decrease, the import value from these countries rose by 2% to 909 billion yen. Specifically, imports from China decreased by 5% to 350,000 tons, but the import value increased by 1% to 331 billion yen. Meanwhile, imports from South Korea rose by 7% to 62,000 tons, with a 2% increase in import value to 65 billion yen.

Russian Imports See a Mixed Outcome

The import volume from Russia declined by 16% to 104,000 tons. However, the import value from Russia significantly surged by 13% to 130 billion yen, indicating a complex dynamic in trade relations.

December 2023 Import Analysis

In December 2023 alone, Japan’s ocean imports decreased by just 0.3% to 180,000 tons, marking the seventh consecutive month of decline in seafood imports.

The persistent decrease in Japan’s seafood imports since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic reflects the ongoing adjustments and challenges in the global seafood market. As Japan continues to navigate these changes, the patterns of imports from various regions provide insights into the shifting dynamics of the seafood industry.

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