ASF remains the key driver of meat import demand in China
The impact of ASF on China’s pig industry continues to be severe, with sporadic outbreaks continuing to be reported. It remains the key driver of the country’s domestic protein production and protein import demand. Estimates put the impact of ASF as equivalent to having destroyed some 40% of China’s pig herd, with industry recovery likely to take several years, according to a recent report of Meat & Livestock Australia.
The significant protein shortage caused by ASF has added price pressures not only to pork, but to other meat proteins as well. Many protein prices reached new heights toward the end of 2019, but have since eased in response to a number of interventions.
In addition to granting more market access to a number of countries, China has also lowered tariff rates on some items for various countries, such as the tariff on frozen pork being reduced from 12% to 8% from 1 January 2020. Aside from facilitating increased import volumes, China has also utilised its state meat reserves in order to ease prices by increasing market supply. In 2020 up to mid-May, 19 releases of pork have been made available to the market totalling approximately 350,000 tonnes, as well as two releases of beef and sheepmeat totalling approximately 7,000 tonnes.
In order to restore the pork industry as soon as possible, the Chinese government has recently announced enhanced actions to be taken to address ASF prevention and control, including more regular inspections and testing, the implementation of risk alert systems and stricter pig transportation and slaughter protocols.