China's pork production recovers, Brazil exports suffer

Pork imports have fallen 64% this year
calendar icon 20 April 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Brazilian pork exporters are grappling with a drop in volumes shipped to their main buyer, China, which has increased its pork meat production after an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in 2018, reported Reuters.

ASF forced China cull millions of hogs and increase imports.

China continued to be Brazil's top pork buyer in March, but acquired 41.8% less than in the same month last year. The Chinese market was the destination of 34,100 tonnes, out of the total of 91,400 tonnes Brazil exported.

China's pork imports from all sources fell by 64% in the first three months of 2022, compared to the same period last year, to 420,000 tonnes, according to data released by the country's General Administration of Customs.

"China would at some point restore production," said Ricardo Santin, president of Brazilian pork and poultry lobby group ABPA. "The government helped and they resumed production earlier than the world thought it would."

China produced 15.61 million tonnes of pork in the first three months of 2022, up 14% from a year earlier. This marked the country's biggest quarterly production in more than three years, according to Chinese government data.

Despite the drop in exports in March to China, the president of ABPA – a group that represents meatpackers such as JBS and BRF – said he saw a silver lining for Brazil's prospects.

According to Santin, China's first-quarter output data reflects higher production, but also a higher slaughtering of sows, a measure designed to save on high feed costs but that can affect the hog supply in future with fewer breeding animals.

IHS Markit analyst Aedson Pereira said China's hog herd grew with massive government investment and use of some of the same production techniques as in Brazil.

"Chinese production has outgrown local demand," he said. "Imports have fallen and along with them the global price of pork."

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