China’s Pork Outlook for 2024: Imports Rise as Domestic Production Declines

China’s pork industry is facing a mixed picture for the year 2024, as indicated by the latest report from the Global Information Agricultural Network by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The report forecasts a 1% decline in both swine production and pork products within the country for the upcoming year. However, amidst these challenges, there is a projected 20% growth in live pig imports, with an estimated 6,000 head set to be imported in 2024. This increase in imports is a significant step for China’s hog herd rebuilding efforts, although the numbers remain historically low.

The domestic swine production sector has encountered difficulties due to low prices for both swine and pork, leading to financial losses across the industry. Over the past year, many companies were compelled to sell off animals to maintain cash flow. Some smaller producers even exited the market hastily. This has resulted in a downward trajectory for the average sow inventory, with expectations of further decreases in both 2023 and 2024.

With the anticipated decrease in hog slaughter, the report predicts a decline in pork production as well. The projected pork production for 2024 is around 55.95 million metric tons. China’s pork consumption is predicted to remain relatively stagnant or slightly reduced in the same year. Economic challenges are also expected to persist in 2024. The Chinese government is likely to continue its emphasis on maintaining stable pork prices throughout the year.

To compensate for lower domestic production, the import of pork products is predicted to surge in 2023, reaching 2.32 million metric tons. This marks an 8% increase compared to 2022 levels. While pork imports are expected to see a slight rise between 2022 and 2024, they will still only reach about half of the import figures seen in 2020 and will remain significantly lower than the imports from 2021. China’s pork imports are diversified, including sources such as Spain, Brazil, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States.

In summary, China’s pork industry is grappling with challenges in domestic production due to low prices, leading to a decline in swine production and pork products. Nevertheless, the nation’s efforts to rebuild its hog herd are reflected in the projected rise in live pig imports for 2024. This intricate balance of factors highlights the complexity of China’s pork market for the upcoming year.