5,000-ton emergency butter import planned

Kyodo News

Japan plans to import 5,000 tons of butter from Europe and elsewhere as an emergency supply measure, farm ministry officials said Thursday.

The measure is being taken to avoid a shortage during the peak season from fall through the end of the year, they said.

The extra butter supply will be handled by Agriculture & Livestock Industries Corp., an entity administered by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry. The butter should arrive around October.

In April, the ministry asked four major Japanese milk producers to release their butter inventories and increase production. But domestic supply is failing to meet demand, apparently because of the tight global supply-demand relationship and a shortage of raw milk.

Importing 5,000 tons amounts to more than 5 percent of Japan’s annual consumption of about 90,000 tons. The emergency step will primarily meet commercial demand but leave consumers short-handed.