China, COVID ruined pork party

Canadian pork exports were surging from December 2018 to May 2019, but then trade disputes and packer slowdowns got in the way


By Ed White, The Western Producer (Canada)  

October 15, 2020


Canadian hog producers were on the path to good times before Chinese complications and COVID-19 derailed producers, Statistics Canada analysis shows.


However, the recovery of the North American packing industry since the pandemic shock and the return of China to buying Canadian pork have reversed some of the damage.


“After the reopening of the Chinese market, producers in Canada were quick to respond,” said StatsCan analyst Jeff Archer.


There is a “pretty clear relationship between exports to China and our fresh and frozen price.”


Canadian pork exports were surging from December 2018 to May 2019 as China’s enormous pig herd was devastated by African swine fever and its people’s enormous hunger for pork saw it suck in huge amounts of foreign pork, including Canada’s. Canadian exports to China increased 83 percent, creating an overall 28.5 percent increase in Canadian pork exports.


That all changed for Canada, however, when China announced an effective ban on Canadian pork due to alleged ractopamine presence. Canadian pork exports to China began collapsing in June 2019 and had dropped by 98 percent by July. That situation continued until November, when China reopened its market to Canadian pork. An ever-increasing river of pork flowed to China from November 2019 to April 2020, when it levelled off at a higher level than it had been pre-May 2018.


The price of pork in Canada shows the influence of China’s demand, increasing in the periods in which Canadian exports to China increased and slumping when that access was cut off.


Between February and May 2019, Canadian fresh and frozen pork prices rose 21.8 percent.


“Impacts to their pork sector can have a very big influence on ours,” said Archer...