January 5, 2021


Consumers in China prefer domestic meats for fear of COVID-19 contamination


Consumers in China look to domestically produced meats as fears rise over COVID-19 contamination in imported cold chain products, reducing meat imports over the past few months, Global Times China reported.


China's General Administration of Customs data showed pork and beef imports at 330,000 tonnes in November 2019, a 70% drop from July the same year. Beef imports dropped 23% to 170,000 tonnes in the same period.


China has ramped up COVID-19 tests at ports of entry for imported cold chain food such as beef, pork, poultry, and seafood. Positive cases for coronavirus traces have been detected on products from Brazil, Ecuador, India, and Russia, with only one domestic positive case in December for the outer packaging of chicken drumsticks in East China's Anhui Province.


Yang Meng, owner of a major seafood importing company catering for North China markets, told Global Times that import volumes have dropped from 2019. Sporadic positive tests affect his business and the import food supply chain like shipping and storage companies.


He said the process to unload imported products now takes two weeks, compared to one day prior to the tests.


Yang also said major supermarket chains in Beijing have stopped stocking imported products as consumers are concerned about imported cold chain products.


Hema Fresh, an e-commerce platform operated by the Alibaba Group, said it will increase stocks of domestic produced seafood and meat in August last year.


Domestic producers have benefitted. Zgyangyang.com, an industry association for lamb producers, said average price of domestic lamb is 10% higher than New Zealand lamb.


Even major restaurant chains have switched to domestic lamb because of COVID-19 concerns. Chinese hotpot chain Xiabu Xiabu said it has increased domestic lamb purchases to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contamination.


- Global Times China