Japan lowers NFDM imports but maintains butter

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) has announced that it would revise planned imports of nonfat dry milk (NFDM) from the US, from a previously announced volume of 4,000 metric tons (MT) to just 750 MT for the Japanese fiscal year 2020. The decrease in planned imports is a result of increasing domestic production of NFDM due to low demand for fresh milk during the Covid-19 pandemic. The 750 MT allows Japan to meet its commitment under the US-Japan trade agreement.

Prior to the pandemic, NFDM stocks were already reaching historic highs as a result of sluggish demand. School and restaurant closures due to Covid-19 further depressed demand, leading the government to support diversion of fresh milk to further processing. In March and April, NFDM production was estimated to have increased 15% year-on-year.

By comparison, in JFY 2017, Japan imported 34,000 MT of NFDM before lowering imports to 27,000 MT in JFY 2018 and 14,000 MT in JFY 2019.

Separately, Japan will maintain planned imports of 20,000 MT of butter. Butter production also increased 32% during the same period, but the government estimated that increased home-cooking during the pandemic would keep butter demand high, requiring sustained imports.

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