- Chinese pork imports from the US dropped more than 50% in 2018 as a result of the tariffs put in place during the Trump trade war.
- According to a report from Reuters, the US sent 263,000 tons of pork to China last year, down from more than 500,000 tons in 2017.
- The fall in pork imports from the US follows a similar pattern to the drop in the amount of soybeans sent to China last year.
Chinese imports of US-bred pork dropped more than 250,000 tons in 2018 as the impact of the trade war between the two nations hit the meat market.
Imports of prime cuts and offal combined dropped 55% in the year, following the imposition of major tariffs on the meat, which is the most consumed in China.
According to a report from Reuters, the US sent 263,000 tons of pork to China last year, down from more than 500,000 tons in 2017. Using data from the General Administration of Customs, Reuters calculated that US exports of pork offal dropped 58% to 177,041 tons in 2018.
China is far and away the world’s largest importer of non-prime cuts of pork – things like feet, ears, and offal – with 9 out of 10 pigs ears sent overseas by US producers going to the country. The market for total offal shipments to China last year was in excess of $870 million.
China is both the biggest consumer and producer of pork in the world, and the meat is effectively a staple food for many Chinese citizens. Demand for pork has boomed in recent years thanks to a growing population and increasing affluence among Chinese citizens.
Previously, the country was largely able to serve demand with domestically reared animals, but population growth has led it to look overseas.
The fall in Chinese pork imports from the US follows a similar pattern to the drop in the amount of soybeans moving between the two nations as a result of tariffs.
Soybean exports from the US to China plunged after tariffs were first introduced, and although China has officially resumed its purchases, demand remains stifled, causing major problems for US farmers.
In November it was reported that farmers in some US states are being forced into plowing their crops under – effectively burying them in their fields – because there is not enough room in storage facilities. All grain depots and silos are almost full, meaning farmers have to figure out their own storage or let the crops rot.
Even after Beijing agreed in trade talks with Washington to resume American soybean purchases, prices of the legume are still down more than 7% from a year earlier and aren’t expected to improve anytime soon.
“The outlook for US soybean prices is bleak,” said Yasemin Engin, an economist at Capital Economics.