WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Japan’s compound and mixed feed production is staying strong, reaching its highest level since 2012-13, as livestock levels hold steady.

Feed production reached 23.9 million tonnes in 2017-18 driven by strong demand from the poultry sector, according to a March 15 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Demand is not expected to change in 2019-20. 

The Japanese government has tried to incentivize feed corn production but farmers face challenges in expanding acreage since the cultivation period is longer. This can lead to an increased risk of red rust disease and a large volume of residuals, the FAS said.

At the same time, the ratio of corn in compound and mixed feed is increasing, reaching 47.9%, its highest level since 2008-09.

Total Japanese corn imports in 2017-18 increased 3.3% to 15.67 million tonnes. Since feed demand is expected to remain stable, the FAS estimates imports will too.

Rice usage in feed has dropped significantly as demand from manufacturers for the production of items such as crackers and miso increased. Rice usage for feed in 2017-18 was down 25% to 824,000 tonnes.

Bad weather during the growing season hurt rice yields, which dropped 1.2%. This led to a 1.7% decline in production to 7.65 million tonnes in 2018-19.

“Yields were noticeably down in northern Japan where low temperatures coupled with a lack of sunshine from mid-June to mid-July decreased the volume of rough rice in Hokkaido,” the FAS said.

Weather conditions in Hokkaido also hurt wheat production, which was down 9.5% to 880,000 tonnes. The planting area for 2019-20 is expected to remain unchanged but production is forecast to increase 8% to 950,000 tonnes.

Food wheat consumption is forecast to continue to total 5.8 million tonnes in 2018-19 and 2019-20, the FAS said. Demand for feed wheat also has been strong and is estimated at 750,000 tonnes for 2017-18.