AHDB Analysis: Impact of Declining Chinese Pig Supplies on Pricing & Supply

Introduction

The recent decline in China’s sow inventory by 6.9% year-on-year, as reported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), has significant implications for global pork markets. This reduction, attributed to disease outbreaks and financial pressures, is poised to tighten pig supply in the coming months, affecting pricing and supply dynamics globally.

Current Market Dynamics

Impact on Global Pigmeat Production

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) forecasts a 0.9% decline in global pigmeat production in 2024, primarily driven by reductions in Asia, where China plays a pivotal role.

Pricing Trends in China

Wholesale pork prices in China started the year steadily but saw boosts during holidays such as Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival. By June, prices peaked at 24.8 yuan per kg, reflecting a 3% increase compared to the same period last year.

Liveweight Pig Prices

Liveweight pig prices in China have also shown a positive trend, reaching 18.4 yuan per kg by the end of June, up from 16.7 yuan per kg in May. Strong weaner pig prices have contributed to this upward movement.

Supply Chain Dynamics

Import Trends

Chinese imports of pigmeat excluding offal have plummeted by 48% year-on-year to 423,000 tonnes from January to May. In contrast, offal imports have risen by 2% during the same period, reaching 474,000 tonnes. Market interference, including government reserves of frozen pork, aims to stabilize prices and ensure supply security.

Key Exporters to China

Despite overall declines in imports, the EU27 remains the largest supplier of pigmeat excluding offal to China, capturing a 47% market share. Spain leads individual country exports in this category, closely followed by Brazil, leveraging competitive pricing advantages.

Strategic Implications

Trade Dynamics and Market Repercussions

Recent tensions, such as China’s anti-dumping investigation into EU pork imports, threaten to disrupt global trade flows. Such developments could lead to significant market adjustments, potentially lowering prices as surplus pork seeks new international markets.

Consumer Behavior and Economic Conditions

Amid lower GDP growth and cautious consumer spending in China, seasonal holidays like the mid-autumn festival and National Day break offer periodic boosts in demand. Consumers, however, remain price-sensitive, opting for more affordable cuts amidst higher living costs.

Future Outlook

Predictions for Pricing and Supply

Looking ahead, pork prices are expected to remain volatile with a positive bias due to sustained tight supplies and stable consumption patterns. The management of domestic frozen inventories and evolving trade policies will continue to influence global pork market dynamics, impacting both pricing and supply stability.

Conclusion

The decline in China’s sow inventory underscores the critical role of supply dynamics in shaping global pork markets. As Chinese pig supplies tighten, stakeholders across the pork industry must navigate evolving trade policies, consumer preferences, and economic conditions to ensure sustainable market growth. The ongoing developments in China’s pork sector serve as a barometer for global market trends, highlighting the importance of adaptive strategies in the face of changing supply and demand dynamics.

More: China’s Anti-Dumping EU Pork Investigation

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