ASF outbreak and Covid-19 pandemic have had an impact on pork prices and import volumes. The value of pork meat imports (HS 0203) in the first months of 2020 (January-April) has reached 3.97 billion USD, a 383% increase from the same period in 2019. Top three exporters in 2020 were Spain (18.94%), the US (16.47%), and Germany (14.56%) The rapid growth of US exports, which in the first months of 2020 has already exported 130% of the total 2019 export value, has helped stabilise prices, as the average US price/kg in the current situation is lower. However, relations with the US are unstable and the Chinese government has told state-owned firms to halt purchases pork and other agricultural products from the United States. Moreover, imports are not strictly price driven, as imports from Brazil have also been growing and their average price is higher. The low domestic supply has made prices to skyrocket over the past few months and imports are following suit.
Source: Eibens with data from Zhujia Zhuwang
Pork prices in China hit record levels in October 2019, almost triple the price from a year earlier, as a result of the sharp decrease in the numbers of pigs due to ASF oubreak. Although production is recovering and demand remains relatively flat, pork supplies remain tight due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which has shaken worldwide production and logistics. This results in pork prices rising again in the first two months of 2020, peaking at 51.1 RMB/kg in February and falling at a slow pace since then due to rising volumes of US imports.
China piglet and sow herds are recovering slowly, however, total pork output has fallen for the sixth consecutive quarter, making imports especially relevant. Government expects that the pork supply situation recovers and stabilises during the summer, however, prices are expected to remain high as consumption increases in the second half of the year.
When analysing prices by regions, in April all provinces show an increase on average price in 2020 compared to the same month of 2019, starting from 90% YoY increase up to 188%. Most affected provinces are those of the South where production is lower, as well as those in inner China such as Xinjiang, which are net exporting regions where consumption is low. The reasons behind this were restrictions on movement of live hogs and pork products during 2019 due to the outbreak, which caused low prices in provinces with high pork production and low consumption, and derived in a rapid growth in prices now that restrictions have been lifted.
Eibens with data from Zhujia Zhuwang