• Kyodo

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Agriculture, fishery and forestry exports in 2020 hit a record high for the eighth consecutive year, with household items such as eggs and rice seeing a boost in sales during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the farm ministry said Friday.

Preliminary data by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry showed exports rose 1.1% from the previous year to ¥922.3 billion, with household products driving sales amid a global drop in demand for eating out.

Although the government is aiming to have its farm exports reach ¥2 trillion by 2025 and ¥5 trillion by 2030, respectively, shipments have stayed at around ¥900 billion since 2018.

Agricultural exports in 2020 rose 11.7% from the previous year to ¥656.5 billion, while those of fishery products fell 20.8% to ¥227.7 billion and forestry items increased 2.8% to ¥38.1 billion.

By item, exports of chicken eggs rose around 2.1 times to ¥4.5 billion and rice increased 15.0% to ¥5.3 billion, while milk and dairy products grew 20.4% to ¥22.2 billion.

Canned tuna and bonito products saw a boost of 33.6% to ¥20.3 billion. Japanese whiskies and alcoholic beverages proved to be similarly popular.

Meanwhile, scallops, a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine, plummeted 29.6% to ¥31.4 billion due to falling prices, and yellowtail saw a drop of 24.7% to ¥17.2 billion. Pearl exports plunged, affected by event cancellations.

Beef, often supplied to restaurants, fell 2.7% to ¥28.8 billion.

By market, Hong Kong was the largest buyer of Japanese agricultural exports with a 1.2% increase, followed by China with a 6.6% rise and Vietnam that saw an 18.3% growth in shipments.

Exports to South Korea fell 18.0%, while those to the United States dropped 4.0%.

The government has formulated a strategy to expand farm exports, focusing mainly on 27 products including beef and yellowtail.

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