China’s Pork, Beef Imports Surge in September

October 15, 2019 Updated: October 15, 2019

BEIJING—China’s pork imports in September surged 76 percent from a year earlier while beef imports came close to a monthly record, as it stocked up on proteins after disease decimated its huge hog herd, customs data showed on Oct. 14.

Pork imports for the first nine months of the year were 1.33 million tonnes, up 43.6 percent from the same period a year earlier, said the General Administration of Customs in a statement.

That brought September arrivals to 166,000 tonnes, according to Reuters calculations, and slightly ahead of last month’s 163,000 tonnes.

The deadly African swine fever has reduced the world’s top pig herd by almost 40 percent, according to official data, after spreading unchecked throughout the country and leaving many farmers unwilling to replenish their farms.

The slump in the herd has pushed retail pork prices up by 84 percent year-on-year to 43.4 yuan ($6.14) per kg while the country’s food price index is at its highest since January 2012.

Imports of beef, usually more expensive than pork, also seem to be benefiting from the meat shortage, with Reuters calculations putting September arrivals at 149,666 tonnes.

That’s up 50 percent on a year ago, and just shy of the record monthly volume of 152,213 tonnes in July this year.

For the first nine months, beef imports came to 1.13 million tonnes, a 53.4 percent jump from a year ago, customs said.

By Dominique Patton