Chinese pork output rose by 4.6% in 2022 to reach its highest level in eight years, official Government data shows.
China produced 55.41 million tonnes of pork last year, compared with 52.96mt in 2021 and the highest figure since the 56.71mt recorded in 2014, signifying that the Chinese pork sector is well and truly back on track after the disruption caused by its huge African swine outbreak.
Output was boosted by fourth-quarter production of 13.91mt, up nearly 1% on Q4 2021, despite a shortage of slaughterhouse labour due to COVID outbreaks, according to Reuters calculations of the data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Reuters reported that farmers have been raising heavier pigs, hoping to benefit from an anticipated recovery in demand and prices, which could have been a factor in the increased output. This was encouraged by a rally in prices over the summer.
Although it has come down, the average liveweight was still on the high side at about 124.5kg last week and that will continue to pressure prices, according to analysts at Huachuang Agriculture.
Demand had, however, remained ‘tepid’ due to surging COVID-19 cases in China that meant many people stayed at home, causing prices to plunge. Meat consumption is forecast to improve, howeverm after China’s reopening from a strict three-year COVID policy, with more group dining and business gatherings to support demand.
However, some believe pork consumption may not recover to the levels prior to China’s African swine fever outbreak that began in 2018, with many still cautious about crowded gatherings, Reuters reports.
The data shows that China’s pork production has increased every quarter year-on-year for the last two years, despite this sluggish demand, as the sector pursues post-ASF recovery. “I haven’t heard there’s much storage so it needs to be consumed already, which is difficult to explain,” a livestock analyst told the news agency.
The data also showed that China’s beef output increased last year by 3% to 7.18 million tonnes, while poultry output rose 2.6% to 24.43 million tonnes and lamb and mutton increased 2% to 5.25 million tonnes.