CHINA, Beijing. Despite corona-related problems, China's meat imports almost doubled in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
According to preliminary data from the General Customs Administration, meat imports including by-products increased by around 1 mill. t or 85% to 2.17 mill. t. The purchase of pork almost tripled to 950,000 t; including offal, 1.24 mill. t were imported.
Compared to the first quarter of 2019, Chinese beef importers ordered a total volume of 510,000 t from their international suppliers, which is almost 200,000 t or 64% more. The more extensive meat imports cost the Chinese buyers a lot. In the first quarter of 2020, the import invoice for this sector of goods amounted to the equivalent of around € 7.13 bn.; this was € 4.13 bn. or 138% more than in the same period last year.
Chinese importers spent a total of € 2.68 bn. on pork, which was much more expensive than at the beginning of 2019, which was four times the amount paid in the first three months of 2019.
By contrast, according to the data in the customs statistics, there was only a moderate increase in imports of milk products; at 870,000 t, imports were around 20,000 t up on the comparable figure for the previous year. Deliveries of milk powder were down by around 27,500 t or 6% to 430,000 t, but the corresponding import value rose by 1.4% to the equivalent of € 2.08 bn. In addition, Chinese traders imported more wheat, soybeans and sugar, while the import of seafood, corn, cooking oils, beer and wine was restricted.
In total, the value of agricultural imports to the People's Republic in the first quarter of 2020 amounted to the equivalent of € 33.9 bn.; compared to the same period last year, this was an increase of 8.9%. The situation was different for export revenues, which fell by 5.7%t to € 14.8 bn. The foreign trade balance for goods in the agricultural and food industry thus continued to deteriorate, with a deficit of € 19.1 bn.