The changing picture of Chinese pork import volumes

Thursday, 8 December 2022

Chinese imports of pig meat (excluding offal) for Q3 totalled 412,100 tonnes, an increase of 25,300 tonnes (6.5%) on Q2. This is back 375,600 tonnes (47.7%) compared to Q3 2021.  

For the year to date (Jan-Sep), China has imported 1.2 million tonnes of pig meat, 1.8 million tonnes less than the same period last year. The UK has shipped 56,600 tonnes of this volume; however, the EU retains the lion’s share of Chinese trade, shipping 643,000 tonnes. Volumes from all key exporting nations have been considerably lower in 2022 than those seen over the last couple of years.

As previously mentioned in our last China update, domestic pork prices have been rising since April. Since early September, 127,100 tonnes of frozen pork reserves have been auctioned in a bid to curb these rising prices. Despite this, domestic prices have continued to rise as China moves into peak seasonal demand for pig meat and so it is likely that imports will increase towards the end of the year.

It is anticipated that 2023 will see import growth as covid restrictions are eased and demand ticks up, although volumes are not expected to match those of 2021. Reports estimate that total pig meat imports (including offal) will stabilise over the next couple of years at around 2 million tonnes. This would mean that China would be around 95% self-sufficient, meeting their food security goal. Even so, China would remain the largest importer of pig meat globally. 

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