TOKYO, JAPAN — Japanese wheat imports in 2020-21 are forecast to decline due to sluggish foodservice demand and strong domestic production, according to a Sept. 24 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The report projects wheat imports to drop from 5.68 million tonnes in 2019-20 to 5.45 million this year. Japan’s wheat production is projected to equal last year’s record high of 1.1 million tonnes.

“Lack of pest and disease concerns coupled with abundant sunshine and mild temperatures led to higher-than-average yields,” the USDA said.

Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, wheat consumption was estimated to remain stable at 5.72 million tonnes in 2019-20, with an additional 1.2% decline forecast for 2020-21.

Total wheat flour sales by the nation’s flour millers decreased 0.5%, to 4.61 million tonnes in 2019-20 as brisk household consumption almost nullified weak foodservice demand.

“In April and May of 2020, during Japan’s COVID-19 state of emergency, wheat flour sales by flour mills decreased 3.3% and 4.9%, respectively, from the previous year, but rebounded with a 5.5% increase in June,” the USDA said.