China looks set to remain a strong outlet for UK pork for the time being, without having the capacity to repeat the high market growth rates of 2015, according to AHDB Pork.
While still broadly optimistic about China’s need to keep importing pork this year, a market review by AHDB Pork includes a sharp warning that EU and UK pig producers should not rely on it to be the “golden goose” too far into the future.
“As well as domestic supplies coming forward at a greater rate, the slowdown of the Chinese economy may limit demand to some extent,” said AHDB Pork.
“Historically, the Chinese market has always shown a degree of volatility, although the trend has been of a growing market. Therefore, whilst the Chinese market has been a lifeline during a difficult period in the EU pig market, we should not rely on it to be the golden goose throughout 2016 and beyond.”
The prospect of a slight increase in pig production in China this year, in line with stabilised consumption, may start to reduce import levels, the review states.
On the other hand, the point is also made that the predicted continued high pork price in China and relatively low levels of trust in the domestic product will continue to make imports an attractive option.
AHDB Pork certainly doesn’t see a dramatic downturn, therefore, in EU/UK exports to China this year, but it is also reasonably cautious about the mid to long term impact of domestic production growth, consumer resistance to high prices and the general state of the Chinese economy.