China's Growth Influences Global Meat Sector

The growth in the Chinese economy and its gross domestic product could have a major impact in the meat industry worldwide, writes ThePigSite senior editor, Chris Harris.
calendar icon 23 April 2010
clock icon 6 minute read

Director of market analysts GIRA, Richard Brown, told the recent Outlook 2010 Conference in London that while the world saw a slump of -1.1 per cent last year from a growth of 3.1 per cent in 2008 and an expected growth of 3.1 per cent this year, China had seen continual growth.

Chinese economic growth went from nine per cent in 2008 to slip by just half a percentage point in 2009 to 8.5 per cent and this year it is expected to grow again by nine per cent.

Countries such as Russia saw a slump of 7.5 per cent, Europe 4.2 per cent and the US 2.7 per cent.

However, Mr Brown said that the meat industry inn Europe at present has the luxury of relatively low feed prices, which he said he hoped would run through until the next harvest.

Global animal disease problems appear to be sorting themselves out with the only major threat coming from African Swine Fever in Russia, although the H1N1 virus did have a major impact on the pig meat industry in North America.

Mr Brown said that the virus outbreak had a significant effect on pig prices, but these have risen more quickly than expected this year.

Worldwide meat consumption fell very slightly last year by just 0.2 per cent, however, this year it is expected to grow by one per cent without taking the growth of the Chinese economy into account.

If the Chinese figures are taken into account, consumption last year grew worldwide by one per cent to 230 million tonnes and this year the rise is expected to go up to 234 million tonnes. Included in these figures is a two per cent rise in pig meat consumption to 97,042 million tonnes and a three per cent rise in poultry meat consumption this year to 76,130 million tonnes.

However, global beef consumption appears to be dropping slightly by one per cent after a stable year last year. Last year consumption was 2,478 million tonnes and it is forecast to drop to 52,049 million tonnes this year.

Source - GIRA

"Global meat demand suffered a sharp downturn in 2009, forcing price decreases to clear the volume," Mr Brown said.

Global trade in meat also suffered last year, with pig meat trade falling by 15 per cent to 5,617 million tones, poultry meat trade dropping by one per cent to 9,783 million tonnes and beef trade down by four per cent to 7,732 million tonnes.

However, this year trade is expected to pick up with a three per cent rise in pork trade and a two per cent rise in poultry meat trade. However, beef is still expected to see a fall of half a per cent.

Mr Brown said that one of the main influences on the trade was the recovery in China of the domestic market from the outbreak of PRRS that it had suffered the year before.

The drop in global meat trade of six per cent was felt by all the major meat exporting countries.

Source - GIRA

However, the Middle East and North Africa did see a rise in imports at the region bought more poultry meat from Brazil, but at the same time the Russian trade fell sharply, though it is expected to go up a little this year.

The drop in trade with Russia is to a large part down to the Russian Government's policy to increase domestic meat production and this has meant that prices in Russia are very high, Mr Brown told the conference.

The volume of imports to the US in 2010 is expected to be about the same as in 2009, but Mr Brown said that some people in the US lost a lot of money last year because of the integrated nature of the meat industry in the country.

Of all the countries in the world, China is emerging as the significant importer of certain commodity products.

However, Mr Brown said it was not quite clear what will happen next in China, because if the country becomes more self sufficient, this will depress imports.

For European traders, because the Euro has been strong throughout 2009, there has been a problem in exporting. For the UK on the other hand, the weakness of sterling has been good news for British farmers.

He said that while consumption in Europe has been down slightly, the main markets to be hit are the beef and sheep sector, which had been hit by both low demand and low supply. The limited supply, however, has mean that prices have remained strong.

"The EU's expenditure on meat has been down and it is not expected to rise," Mr Brown said.

He added that the EU exports of meat were down largely because of the situation in the pig meat market and EU beef production has been drifting down because of a drift in the dairy herd.

He warned that the global meat industry is in a period of uncertainty, but he issued a specific warning to the Brazilian sector, which he said was starting to lose its way because it was not responding to the demand of its export customers largely over sanitary and welfare issues.

Brazilians are the largest exporters, with 23 per cent of world beef trade, but they have been limited by reduced supply, weak global demand, and traceability compliance problems with the EU. They also have 11 per cent of the world pork trade with limited market access and they have 43 per cent of world poultry trade with further growth to a range of markets, but at low prices.

He said that last year was a difficult year for the Brazilians, with a Russian downturn in import demand, strengthening currency and more industry consolidation.

April 2010

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