Chinese pork imports fell by around one third on a year earlier during Q2 which is the first time since the end of 2014 that quarterly imports have not increased on the year, according to a new report from AHDB pork.
Chinese fresh/frozen pork imports fell a noticeable 34% year-on-year during Q2, totalling 316,000 tonnes according to Chinese customs. The decline increased throughout the quarter, with June shipments alone 54% behind the month in 2016. The weaker import demand comes as Chinese domestic production has finally begun to recover. Production had come under pressure over the past two years, following the implementation of strict environmental regulations by the Chinese government. However, it seems the extremely high pork prices achieved in China last year did ultimately encourage some reinvestment. As such, according to the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, slaughterings were almost 1% higher year-on-year in the first 5 months of 2017.
On top of this, consumer demand for pork in China has also been under pressure. The second quarter is traditionally the weakest for pork sales, but this year strong price competition from poultry meat also reportedly impacted on demand.
As such, wholesale pork prices in China have declined considerably from the 2016 level. Prices were 17% lower than the start of the year for week ended 18 July. Live pig prices have also followed a similar trend. With domestically produced pork becoming more affordable, the incentive to import is reduced.
So far, most of the major suppliers have followed the overall trend and exported less than in 2016 during Q2. The EU was particularly affected, with imports falling 43% year-on-year leading to a 10 percentage points drop in market share. Tight supplies, high European pig prices and bans on trade from some German plants likely influenced this. Following from this, the US was proportionally less affected, with shipments only declining 29% on Q2 2016.
The full report can be read here: https://pork.ahdb.org.uk/prices-stats/news/2017/august/in-depth-chinese-pork-imports-lose-momentum/