Warehousing & Logistics

Large Volume of Imported Meat Products Fills Coldstores in Japan

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Cold storage warehouses in the Tokyo area are operating beyond capacity, as free trade agreements have led to a surge in meat imports, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

In a March 28 dispatch, Keigyo Yoshida reported:

“Freezer and refrigerated warehouses in Tokyo logged an inventory ratio of 40.4% for January, or above the 38% deemed as the capacity threshold, according to the Japan Association of Refrigerated Warehouses. The ratio in the Yokohama area was 44.9%.

“Japan’s meat imports topped 2.23 million tons last year, up roughly 40% from 2009. This follows the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement going into force at the end of 2018, and Japan’s economic partnership agreement with the European Union taking effect in February 2019.”

The growth has been attributed in part to greater consumption, as well as the buildup of pork stocks in response to African swine fever (ASF).

Yoshida pointed out that cold storage capacity throughout Japan amounted to roughly 40 million cubic meters at the end of December 2019 – up by approximately 10% from 2015. According to the Yano Research Institute, the value of the refrigerated logistics market will likely top 2 trillion yen in fiscal 2021– up by 18% over 2018.

With the pandemic spread of novel coronavirus that broke out late last year in Wuhan, PRC, “logistics between China and Japan has slowed, so the storage crunch is not as intense as it was at one point, but that does not mean the problem is resolved,” stated an official at the Japan Association of Refrigerated Warehouses.

“Meat warehouses are normally built near ports serving major markets, such as Tokyo and Osaka. But there is almost no space left in those areas to expand infrastructure,” reported the Nikkei Asian Review.

Nichirei, the nation’s leading cold storage operator and producer of a wide range of value-added frozen food products, has spent approximately ¥10 billion to build a high-capacity warehouse in Nagoya (the largest city in the Chūbu region of central Japan) that is scheduled to soon open for business. It is expected to store a large amount of food products bound for the Tokyo market.