GERMANY, Bonn. China imported a record amount of pork last year as a result of African swine fever (ASF); so far this year, the volumes sourced are even higher.
According to data from the Customs Administration, China imported a total of 1.43 mill. t of pork, including by-products, in the first quarter of 2021; this was 237,400 t, or one-fifth, more than in the same period last year. The bulk, 1.14 mill. t, consisted of fresh and frozen products, the import volume of which increased by 22.9%. The increase in abattoir by-products was more modest at 9.4% to 289,200 t.
By far the most important pork supplier to the Chinese market was Spain. The volume shipped by the Iberians increased by 241,900 t or 113.4% to 455,200 t compared to the first three months of 2020. As a result of these very good marketing opportunities, slaughter pigs became scarce in Spain and the Mercolleida quotation increased by 33% in the first quarter of 2021.
China's second most important third-country supplier was the United States; however, it suffered a slight decline in sales of 1.2% to 209,000 t. Although US exports of abattoir by-products to China increased by 64.5% to 71,700 t, the decline in exports of fresh and frozen goods weighed more heavily at 18.3% to 137,300 t.
The Netherlands, like many other European Union countries, enjoyed an increase in its pork exports to China. Total tonnage increased by 40.1% to 140,800 t compared to the first quarter of 2020. Denmark ranked behind, with sales up nearly 10% to 128,600 t, although this was held back by stagnant sales of by-products.
Brazil increased its sales of pork cuts to China by 41.5% to 121,200 t, but ranked only fifth among the most important supplier countries due to comparatively lower exports of by-products totaling 125,500 t.
Germany completely lost its high market shares in China after the emergence of ASF; this also explains the strong gains made by other competitors.