September 10, 2020


China pork import volume in H1 exceeds 2019 total



China's pork imports in the first six months remained high despite the COVID-19 pandemic and weak pork demand particularly in the food-service sector.


In an analytical article published by The Pig Site, it was noted that China imported 2,074,128 tonnes of pig meat and 656,344 tonnes of pork offal during the six-month period from January to June. Both increased by 153.3% and 33.2% respectively, year-on-year.


It was also noted that the pig-meat import volume in the first half exceeded that of the full year in 2019.


The article, written by Angela Zhang, attributed the big import increases to China's plunging pork production in the first half due to the impacts of African swine fever (ASF) and the relatively lower pork prices in overseas markets during the period.


Pork imports were especially high in March and April, with the year-on-year growth rate reaching 201.9% and 185.6% to 384,015 tonnes and 389,891 tonnes, respectively.


Owing to the ASF, China's annual pork production declined 21.3% to 42.55 million tonnes in 2019, and recovery was still slow during the first half of this year, decreasing 19.1% year-on-year to 19.98 million tonnes.


US retakes No. 1 position


During the first half, the US retook its position as the No. 1 pig-meat exporter to China and retained its leadership in pork offal.


The increases were mainly achieved under favorable factors including more American pork producers removing ractopamine to meet stricter Chinese regulations. Since October 2019, more plants have been qualified for pork export to China, the article said.


American importers also accelerated their pork export to China by offering a more competitive price than other countries, as they tried to avoid an overstock brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The US' phase one trade deal with China likewise helped and motivated American farmers to reinforce their market share, both in China's pigmeat (+19.7%) and pork offal (+19.8%) in the first half of the year, the article stated.


China's pork production is expected to recover in the second half of this year, but it would still fall short of the normal level by the end of 2020, as per the article.


It said that China's release of frozen pork from state reserves to cool pork prices may be a bad news for the import market. From January to early September, some 540,000 tonnes of frozen pork has been released, and based on production date of the latest batch, a large stock of frozen pork is to be released in the remaining months of 2020.