Japan to up butter imports at the expense of SMP

Published 7 March 19

Japan plans to import 20,000 tonnes of both butter and skimmed milk powder (SMP) during the Japanese fiscal year in 2019 (1 April – 31 March), according to USDA. This is 7,000 tonnes higher than the planned butter import volume set for 2018, but 7,000 tonnes lower than last year’s SMP volume.

Each year, the Japanese Government sets import volume limits based on supply and demand analysis. The planned increase in butter imports comes primarily from growing demand from food manufacturers, who are reliant on imports as they lose out on the majority of domestic supplies to the table market. The planned reduction in SMP imports comes from weaker demand, higher production and higher stocks going into 2019.

Japan Butter Imports

From January to December 2018*, Japan imported just over 15,000 tonnes of butter, of which nearly 60% came from New Zealand and 34% from the EU. In the same year, imports of SMP totalled 52,000 tonnes, with 57% coming from New Zealand and Australia, and 15% from the EU. While dairy imports direct from the UK are relatively small, Japan remains a key trading partner with the UK outside of the EU.

Japan SMP Imports


*Full data for the 2018 Japanese financial year is not yet available.