China Meat Imports Hit Record as Pork Prices Jump on Swine Fever

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Source: Bloomberg

  • Imports of meat, including offal, gained 45% y/y, customs says
  • Domestic meat prices rally as swine fever hurts pork supplies

China, the world’s top pork consumer, imported a record volume of meat in May in a bid to mitigate the impact of African swine fever as domestic pork prices rebound.

China bought 556,276 tones of meat and offal in May, up about 45% from a year earlier, according to official customs data published on Sunday. That brings total imports in the first five months to 2.2 million metric tons, a 23% increase from last year.

Pork imports surged the most among the meats, increasing 63% to 187,459 tons in May from a year earlier. Lamb shipments climbed 53% to 42,036 tons, while beef imports rose 41% to 123,720 tons. Frozen chicken purchases grew 26% to 63,430 tons, customs data showed.

Imports are unlikely to slow down, despite limited cold storage space at China’s major ports, said Pan Chenjun, a livestock analyst at Rabobank in Hong Kong.

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Still, import growth for the whole year will likely be capped as China is shunning U.S. supplies due to the trade spat between the two countries, said Jim Huang, chief executive officer of China-data.com.cn, a consultant for the agriculture industry.

“There will not be enough meat elsewhere for China,” said Huang. Pork prices in some areas of the country have recently picked up despite low seasonal demand, indicating tight supply is looming, said Huang. Wholesale pork spot prices were at 21.55 yuan a kilogram on June 14, up 12% from the same period last year.

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