AUSTRALIA, Northern Sydney. Total China beef imports are up 43% for the year-to-June, especially South American suppliers continue to grow presence in China.
June import data shows the demand for animal protein in China continues to thrive across all species. Driven by the pork shortage caused by African Swine Fever (ASF), import demand has accelerated since early 2019. Estimates conclude that ASF has destroyed approximately 40% of China’s pig herd, with industry recovery likely to take several years.
June import volumes highlight the demand for protein, with total meat imports reaching 873,000 t shipped weight (swt), just shy of the record 902,000 t swt in March. However, the March figure likely included carry over from port disruptions caused by Covid-19 in January and February, which indicates that demand is likely still increasing.
Year-to-date pork imports are up 153%, with supplies from the United States, Spain and Germany responding to increased demand. However, despite the increased imports, China pork prices at retail are still almost double what they were a year ago.
Beef imports are up 43% for the year-to-date, with Brazil and Argentina the top two suppliers to the market. As discussed earlier this month, Australian exports to China have softened, with South American nations picking up the shortfall. Relative to the five-year average (2015–19), Brazil and Argentina have grown their market share to 35% and 22% respectively.
Despite economic impacts from COVID-19, the recent outlook from the OECD-FAO indicates the ASF-induced pork import demand surge will provide support to export prices in the short-term, as will the growing number of affluent households who seek high quality protein.