Experts Vouch for Safety of China's Pork Industry

CHINA - Surging pork imports are not likely to hurt the domestic pork industry, experts said yesterday, even though imports of the meat are expected to reach a record high this year.
calendar icon 29 November 2011
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China used to produce enough soybeans to satisfy domestic demand, but with the arrival of cheaper genetically modified soybeans from the US five years ago, China has instead become the world's biggest importer of soybeans. Some are concerned that the pork industry will also be pushed aside by imports.

"The amount of China's pork imports is far from enough to do any harm to domestic players," Ma Chuang, deputy secretary-general of the China Animal Agriculture Association, told the Global Times yesterday.

China consumes some 50 million tons of pork each year, and the world's total pork exports only come to about 6 million tons a year, according to Mr Chuang.

"Imported frozen pork does not have any advantage in taste and quality. And domestic consumers prefer fresh meat to frozen products, so domestic supplies will still dominate the market," Feng Yonghui, an analyst with pork industry portal, told the Global Times on Monday.

In the first nine months of this year, China imported 870,000 tons of pork and byproducts, up 44.6 per cent year-on-year.

Mr Chuang predicted that the total amount of pork imports would top 1 million tons this year, above the historic high of 910,000 tons in 2008.

"The domestic market saw a short period of tight supply this summer, which was the major reason behind the surge in imports," Mr Yonghui noted.

But experts agree that the surging pork imports are only a temporary phenomenon, and with domestic supplies catching up, imports will gradually be reduced.

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce last week showed that pork prices had fallen for the eighth consecutive week, which also shows that domestic supply is recovering.

Currently, the wholesale pork price is about 16 yuan ($2.50) per kilo, 10 per cent lower than in September.

"With domestic pork prices cooling, imported pork has lost its price advantage. This means that orders for imported pork will see an obvious decline in the rest of this year," Mr Yonghui said.

Currently China imports pork mainly from the US, Canada and Denmark. Last year, Denmark provided some 40 per cent of China's total pork imports.

But in the first nine months this year, the US has accounted for some 60 per cent of China's total pork imports, according to Mr Chuang.

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