China forecast to need substantially more pigmeat in 2015

Chinese pigmeat imports are set to rise to 1.2 million tonnes this year, with EU suppliers gaining an increased share of this trade, according to the latest update from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

The 1.2m/t figure is 20% up on previous USDA estimates with the FAS report stating that the impact of high internal corn prices is “stressing profitability” for many Chinese producers.  As a result, FAS has cut its 2015 pig production forecast for China by 60m head to 672m.

The report also states that while the US is expected to remain as the second largest supplier to China behind the EU, its market share is projected to decline.

“Imports from EU countries will continue to grow as China opens its market to more EU countries,” said FAS, adding that a strong dollar has made US pork more costly than meat from competing European countries.

“Many US meat packers also curtailed their exports to China due to China’s zero tolerance for ractopamine, a feed additive that promotes lean muscle growth in pigs,” said FAS, pointing out that the additive is not used by EU suppliers. As a result, the EU now accounts for more than 60% of pork exports to China with Hungary recently becoming the 15th EU country to be granted access to China’s pork market.

At the same time as forecasting a rise in China’s pigmeat imports, however, FAS adds that 2015 will also see a 9% rise in Chinese pigmeat export. This will take the country’s export total to 300,000 tonnes, based mainly on “stronger demand from Hong Kong and Russia”.  

It’s also reported that China hopes to increase the number of plants eligible to ship to Russia from the current two to ten in 2015.

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