An Overview of the Current Japanese Dairy Industry

Posted on 13 July 2020

Australia’s Livestock Exporters Now Exports to Japan

japanese dairy

It’s hard to believe that just 16 major dairy farms exist to service Japan’s growing dairy needs.

Over the last four years, demand for dairy products has soared. Yet, the Japanese dairy industry has declined by 15% since 2000. 

Growing Demand for Milk in Japan 

Like those in many eastern countries, Japanese people have only recently discovered the joys of dairy products. This is largely thanks to influences from the West.

Cheese consumption in Japan is low compared to the Western world at 2.4 kilograms per person. Yet, local dairy farms can't produce enough raw milk to meet the demand for processed products.

Cheese and butter shortages are common in Japan.

A Snapshot of the Japanese Dairy Industry

There are two main reasons behind the sharp decline in Japan's dairy production.

Firstly, there's a shortage of suitable dairy cows to meet demand.

The recent focus on inseminating dairy cows with Wagyu embryos means dairy heifers are in short supply. That makes them an expensive investment for small farmers and mega Japanese milking parlours alike.

Also, many small farmers are ageing out of the industry with no-one to take their place. 

Thus the majority of milk production currently falls on a few mega-farms scattered around the country. These massive Japanese dairy operations use all the latest technologies to get the most out of their herds.

These initiatives include enclosed barns to protect the cows from heat and pests. Robotic milking machines ensure maximum yield from every cow.  

However, SMART agriculture isn't enough to meet the growing demands of the local industry. Increasing the national herd is the only way producers can hope to keep up.

Japan has the technology to safely raise and milk more cows. Managed feedlots make up for the limited availability of agricultural land. 

Opportunities for Australian Exporters

Holstein cattle make up almost 99% of all dairy cows in Japan. In their current numbers, these high-yielding animals can't make up the shortfall in production.

According to the Japan Dairy Association, milk production needs to increase to 7.5 million tonnes by 2025. This is to service the country's growing needs as well as reduce expensive imports.

These figures represent an increase of 3% from the 7.2 million tonnes produced at the last count in 2018.

At present, there are not enough dairy cows in Japan to supply milk for a growing population of 126 million people. 

As a result, Japan is currently the fourth largest importer of dairy products worldwide. The main products imported from the US and EU include cheese, powdered milk, and butter.  

The bottom line is, Japan needs more cows. This is great news for Australian exporters looking for new markets.

Help Grow Japan's Dairy Industry  

Would you like to get on board with the opportunities offered by the Japanese dairy industry? Australian Livestock Exporters is your first port of call.

We can assist you with all the permits and approvals needed to export high-quality dairy cows to Japan or anywhere in the world.

Enquire now to find out more about our exacting standards and high success rate in exporting top-class Australian cattle.

For more information on how to import Australian dairy livestock into Japan, make a trade enquiry here.




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