[Press Release] Demand for whale meat is now so low in Japan, it is used for pet food

May 17th 2022

Press Release
Demand for whale meat is now so low in Japan, it is used for pet food

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is casting a shadow over our lives as it follows the economic stagnation caused by the Corona pandemic that has continued over the past three years. In the midst of this situation, the government has approved the draft budget for 2022, which includes a variety of issues. It is very unfortunate that the budget of approximately 5.1 billion yen related to whaling is included in this year's budget.

Four years ago, on December 28, 2018, then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced that Japan would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and begin commercial whaling. Then, in July of the following year, one large mothership whaling company and four small coastal whaling companies began commercial whaling.
However, despite the desperate efforts of each of these companies, demand for whale meat has not returned, and stocks keep piling up. It has become clear that the whaling industry can no longer stand on its own without government support, while the government has stated that it plans to end its support for the whaling industry

through subsidies.

Kyodo Senpaku that conducts mothership type whaling has no choice but to plan for the construction of new vessels due to the aging of their mother ships. The cost of the new vessel will be partially borne by Shimonoseki City, and the city is hoping to raise funds through crowdfunding, but given the current situation, it appears that using the vessel as a whaling ship alone is not feasible.
To overcome this current situation, the vendors have been working hard to sell whale meat to schools and medical institutions at a substantial discount, sell directly to restaurants, change processing methods to improve the flavor of whale meat, and develop new products such as whale fat ice cream and whale meat tartar. However, while sales of fresh whale meat have been relatively strong, demand for frozen meat remains remains low, and whale meat seems to have ended up in the pet food market.

A November 2021 analysis of the Japanese pet food market found 34 Japanese companies producing and selling 61 different processed, frozen, freeze-dried, and products made from sei, minke, and fin whales.
More than 50 products were targeted for dogs (raw meat, processed meat in pouches, dried jerky, flakes, biscuits, freeze-dried cubes, etc.), and another 10 products were targeted for cats or both. An omega-3 supplement made from whale blubber is also available.

IKAN says "Japan has resumed commercial whaling, claiming that whaling is a traditional industry, but the use of pet food is clearly not traditional. It is a mistake to continue commercial whaling with such unreasonable use. Even in Iceland and Norway, the demand for whale meat is declining, and it can be assumed that they will withdraw from commercial whaling in the not-too-distant future. Furthermore, globally we are faced with various effects of the deterioration of the marine environment and dietary changes. Given these situations, we should reconsider the choice of commercial whaling, and instead concentrate our efforts on improving the health of the marine environment, and switch to the development of healthy fishing industry.