Will China Meat Consumption Rebound in 2021?


by Jennifer Shike, AgWeb

Jan 12, 2021


Driven by higher estimates for pork, the China total meat import forecasts for both 2020 and 2021 are revised 4% and 1% higher, respectively, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Livestock and Poultry World Markets and Trade report. Although pork import growth slowed in the fourth quarter of 2020, it exceeded expectations and results in a more bullish outlook for 2021.


“The impact of African swine fever (ASF) is expected to have reached its zenith in 2020, pressuring consumption and increasing the country’s reliance on meat imports,” the report said.


Even with the elevated pace of trade, China meat consumption fell to its lowest level in more than a decade last year. In 2021, higher estimates for both China pork production and imports lead total meat consumption up 2% from the prior forecast, the report noted. Still, total meat consumption is expected to be below pre-ASF levels.


Global pork production for 2021 is revised up nearly 2% to 103.8 million tons due to the Chinese hog sector’s continued recovery from ASF.


High pork prices continue to incentivize Chinese producers to expand their herds, resulting in the production forecast for China being revised 5% higher. But experts believe China production will still remain below pre-ASF levels due to rising costs and animal management challenges.


Global pork exports for 2021 are revised up nearly 3% to 11.1 million tons on China import demand that, while lower year-over-year, is expected to remain elevated by historical standards, the report said.


“Abundant exportable supplies around the world are expected to find a home in China as consumption in this key market continues to be well below pre-ASF levels. Meanwhile, a weak peso and sluggish domestic economy lead to lower import expectations for Mexico,” the report said.


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