China: Pork Imports Decline

From January to March of this year, China imported only half as much pork as during the same period last year. Particularly, Spain experienced a significant decline in sales and was surpassed by Brazil as the top supplier. However, there is still notable interest from China in pork by-products, which saw a slight increase in import volume compared to the previous year, as reported by AgE.

In the first quarter of 2024, China imported more pork by-products than fresh and frozen pork for the first time. According to customs data, the import volume of by-products increased by 1.6% to 276,800 tons compared to the first quarter of 2023. In contrast, the import volume of pork cuts plummeted by 52.1% to just 253,000 tons, marking the lowest quarterly volume in many years. Overall, China’s pork imports, including by-products, decreased by 33.8% to 530,000 tons. Import expenditures also dropped significantly due to lower purchase prices compared to the previous year, decreasing by 46.3% to 1.06 billion euros.

Brazil Overtakes Spain as the Main Supplier

Despite the decline in imports, pork is not particularly scarce in China due to subdued demand in the current year. According to a more detailed analysis of trade data by the Danish Agriculture & Food Council (L&F), all suppliers of fresh and frozen pork felt the impact. This was particularly evident in the first quarter of 2024 for Spain, which experienced a 49.3% decrease in sales to 67,170 tons compared to the same period in 2023. Consequently, Spain lost its leading position as China’s top pork supplier to Brazil. Although Brazilian exports to China amounted to 70,660 tons, they still recorded a 42.0% decline in quantity. Following behind were Canada, the Netherlands, and the USA, each supplying around 18,000 tons. However, the sales volumes of these countries more than halved compared to the previous year.

USA Expands Market Share

In terms of pork by-products, the USA led as the top foreign supplier to China, delivering 78,640 tons in the first quarter of the year. This marked a 2.4% increase compared to the same period in 2023. The USA’s market share in this product category increased from 22.6% in the first quarter of 2022 to 28.4% in the same period of 2024. Spanish exporters also saw gains, increasing their exports of edible pork by-products to China by 7.8% to 58,420 tons. Canada experienced the strongest relative growth, nearly 57%, reaching 28,660 tons. However, Denmark was among the significant losers, experiencing a 25% decline in sales to 27,440 tons. France saw almost a 13% decrease in exports of by-products to China, while exporters in the UK enjoyed a 10% increase to 13,700 tons.