U.S. pork producers should pay close attention to international markets as U.S. pork demand increased in China and other foreign markets in 2020, totaling a record $7.7 billion.

What’s Happening in China 

Experts discussed the role China has played in global pork demand as well as how U.S pork producers can take advantage of current and future international markets of interest in one of the Pork Academy Seminars at the 2021 World Pork Expo.  

“African swine fever is one of the major factors currently impacting global pork exports and imports,” says Rupert Claxton, Meat Director for Gira International. 

“The world meat markets have been in upheaval really since ASF swept into China,” Claxton continues. “We’re tackling the dual effects now with not just ASF in Asia, but COVID as well and the impact that’s having on consumer demand.” 

Claxton later explained China and Hong Kong are on track to account for 45% of world imports in 2021. As China rebuilds their supply in the wake of ASF, there is a massive increase of pork imported to the well populated country, but it won’t last long. 

As the demand for imported pork in China decreases, Claxton recommends looking into alternative markets and has advice for U.S. pork producers.

The Importance of Diversification for U.S. Pork Exports 

Vice President for the Asia Pacific Region at U.S Meat Export Federation Joel Haggard described the Chinese market but added the perspective of live hog and futures prices.

“The U.S. pork industry in general is less reliant on China than its competitors,” says Haggard. “The U.S. is still somewhat diversified, although it has been very much of a China story this year for our exports.” 

Haggard offered these facts regarding U.S. exports to China: 

  • 8% of U.S. current pork production is moving to China
  • 28% of our exports for the world by volume go to China, equating to 23% of the value
  • U.S. pork accounts for 14% of China’s imports

Equaling 13% of the world’s supply, more than 6.56 billion pounds of U.S. pork was exported to other markets in 2020. China and Hong Kong are the main recipients, averaging 30% of the U.S. export market, but there are some risks.  

Along with these risks, Haggard spoke of opportunities for U.S. producers due to industry trends in China.  

  • Production costs are likely to continue rising in China
  • China aspires to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership 
  • Long-term Renminbi appreciation 

How National Pork Board is Helping 

Dr. Clay Eastwood, Director of International Marketing for the National Pork Board, explained how USMEF and the Checkoff is working to ensure U.S. pork producers long-term success in international markets.