CHINA - Over the last month, doubts about the state of the Chinese economy have increased, which could be a cause for cause for concern among global pork exporters.
Although Chinese economic growth rates have been slowing for some time, the latest concerns have been triggered by a sharp fall in the Shanghai Stock Exchange since mid-June.
This has led the government to suspend some share trading, raising doubts about its ability to manage the economy.
While the fall in stock values shouldn’t have an immediate impact on the Chinese economy as a whole, it could erode consumer confidence and might directly affect the wealth of some of China’s middle class consumers.
As they are among the leading consumers of imported meat, this could be a cause for concern among global pork exporters. Many are hoping that higher Chinese demand will support the global trade in the second half of this year, traditionally the peak period for imports.
Most forecasts had anticipated an increase in Chinese pork imports this year, with some putting shipments at over 1 million tonnes. This was due to an expected fall in production following a decline in the pig herd, driven by poor profitability last year.
Since March, Chinese pork prices have increased by a third and are now at their highest level for over two years, meaning the production decline may reverse next year. However, current prices suggest that demand is still running ahead of supplies and there should still be scope for higher imports this year.
The economic concerns may temper expectations to some extent and slower economic growth may also hit consumption levels in the longer-term.
It is probably too early to say whether this will have an impact on pork imports in the short-term. Many exporters will be hoping it doesn’t, given that demand in some other key import markets has begun to cool.
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