U.S. pork and broiler exports have been strong this year, the result of increased global demand, mostly from China.
U.S. pork producer could see a 19% increase in U.S. pork exports this year, according to Ken Isley, administrator of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service.
In fact, from May 2019 through May 2020, “we’ve seen $3.4 billion worth of exports through the end of May. That’s actually a 40% increase.”
U.S. Meat Export Federation reported May pork exports totaled 243,823 mt, 12% above a year ago but down 13% from the monthly average for the first quarter of 2020. Export value was $620.9 million, up 9% year-over-year but 16% below the first quarter monthly average.
USMEF’s Joe Schuele relayed that China is taking in unprecedented volumes of pork. However, he added that the U.S. is “by a large margin, the least dependent on China at this time of any of the major pork exporters.”
This is a good thing, Schuele added, “especially as we are in such a volatile trade climate. We always want to have a wide range of markets.”
May exports to China/Hong Kong pulled back from recent record highs but still reached 112,820 mt, up 148% from a year ago, valued at $259 million (up 188%).
Meanwhile, U.S. broiler exports continue to grow and are expected to increase year over year.
“We’re projecting that this year will be our record year for total broiler exports,” said Jim Sumner, president of USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, adding that China is the reason for the boost. “In fact, for the last two months, China has displaced Mexico as our number one export market.”
Isley expects U.S. broiler exports to the world will grow by 2% this year. China’s appetite is playing a big role in that increase, USDA noted.
“We’ve got boots on the ground in China to help support those sales,” Isley said.
A USDA GAIN report recently noted that poultry imports in 2021 are forecast to fall by as much as 16% due to a high base in 2020 but they will still remain at almost double the pre-ASF level. While COVID-19 has affected poultry consumption demand in many ways, overall consumption growth will not slow in 2021, the report said.
China production expanding
The GAIN report also relayed that China's chicken meat production will continue to grow in 2021, yet at a slower pace than the rapid expansion in 2019. However, gains in broiler production and chicken meat consumption will not be erased and the long-term trend of chicken displacing pork will continue, the report said.
According to a first quarter 2020 broiler industry report, China’s commercial chick supply was at 1.08 billion, up 6.34% year-on-year. By early March, chick production was back to normal following a slowdown related to COVID-19, the GAIN report relayed.
“It is projected that 5.68 billion white chickens will be slaughtered in 2020, up 13% year-on-year. Although broiler and layer farms are reportedly losing money, overall slaughter of broilers in May was still increasing.”
Regarding China’s hog industry, the report noted that government policies have put hog production as the number one priority in the agriculture sector.
“In April 2020, industry reported that 28 enterprises announced 76 billion yuan worth of investment in the hog industry. Since March 2020, China has seen 40,000 newly registered pig breeding companies, an indication of restocking efforts following the African Swine Fever outbreak that began in 2018.”
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS) 2020 China Agriculture Industry Development Report estimated that live pig production will recover to more than 80% of pre-ASF levels by of the end of 2020.