U.S. pork exports to China skyrocketed in 2020 as African swine fever (ASF) eroded two-thirds of China’s hog herd and drove local hog prices to record highs. A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange notes that exports to greater China now accounts for nearly 8% of U.S. pork production, compared to just 2% in 2018.
However, the report also suggests that as China makes progress rebuilding its hog herd, this jeopardizes the U.S. export picture over the next three to five years.
Will Sawyer is an economist with CoBank who authored the bank’s recent outlook for pork exports. He told Feedstuffs editor Krissa Welshans that although ASF will likely remain an issue in China’s hog industry for years, if not decades the financial incentive to expand the country’s domestic production is quite compelling. Producer margins in China averaged hundreds of dollars per head for several months in 2020.
With that in mind, massive investment in building Chinese production facilities should push U.S. producers to look for additional customers — at home and abroad — with an eye toward a day when China’s purchases return to historic norms.
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