China’s weak pork market begins to recover 11-20-2019

The 10th China International Meat Conference of the 2nd China International Import Expo was held on November 7 in Shanghai, China. At the conference, Wang Bin, the Deputy Director of China’s Market Operation and Consumption Promotion of the Ministry of Commerce, said that with China’s recent policy on stabilizing pork production and market supply, pork production is rising again. He predicted that pig production would resume, and the market supply of pork will increase if African swine fever is kept under control and does not reemerge during the second half of 2019.

Wang Bin also reported that pork production in China was mainly affected by African swine fever and therefore the volume of pork production has decreased since August 2018. The number of pigs slaughtered in China was 155 million in the first three quarters of 2019, which is a decrease of 13.8% compared to the same period last year. Pork production was 31.81 million tonnes, a decrease of 17.2% compared to the same period in 2018. Also, due to effect of African swine fever, many farmers chose to keep pigs on their farms to allow more pigs to be born in the future, and therefore pork production in the third quarter reduced in the market by 40%.

Additionally, pork consumption in China has also been decreasing due to the increasing price of pork. Demand for pork has decreased between 20% and 30% on average since October. The winter in China is considered to be a busy season for meat consumption, especially during Chinese New Year and New Year’s Day. As a result, the increase in pork demand will affect the pork market supply.

China imports pork from Europe, North America, and South America

Wang Bin also mentioned that China’s pork imports are becoming diversified. From January to September, China has imported 813.4 thousand tonnes of pork from Europe, which is an increase of 41.6% compared to the same period last year. The volume of pork imported from Europe from January to September also accounts for 61.4% of the total volume of pork imports. In particular, 247.1 thousand tonnes of pork comes from Spain, up 42.5%, and 221.5 thousand tonnes of pork comes from Germany, up 27.5%. In addition, 139.4 thousand tonnes of pork is imported from the United States, accounting for 10.5 % of the total volume of pork import, an increase of 73.3% compared to the same period last year. Wang Bin stated that although pork imports come primarily from Europe and North America, the import volumes from other countries are rapidly increasing; for instance, the percentage of Chinese pork imported from South America has recently increased from zero to 16.3%. On the day of the 2nd China International Import Expo, China resumed the importation of Canadian pork.

China’s meat production becoming diversified

Wang Bin explained that for a long period of time in the past, pork played a primary role in meat production in China; in the 1980s, pork composed more than 90% of all Chinese-produced meat.

In recent years, China’s meat production has become more diversified, and due to the influence of African swine fever, pork production has largely decreased, and the proportion of Chinese meat made up by pork has fallen significantly. In 2018, pork accounted for only 62.7% of all meat produced in China, 31.4% less than in 1980. Wang Bin also explained that the spending habits of Chinese citizens are constantly on the rise, and therefore pork is playing an increasingly less significant role in Chinese meat production, with poultry, beef and mutton products taking the place of pork.

On October 25, the Agricultural Department held a news conference detailing the situation of China’s farming economy during the first three quarters of the year, mentioning specifically a recovery in the production of live pigs, as well as in increase in the production of beef, mutton, and poultry. The level of pig production should continue to recover during the last part of the year, and it is expected to return to normal by 2020.

For more information on China’s food and feed market, please check our related resources, Amino acid China E-news, Vitamins China E-news and corn products E-News

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