Canada beats US in pork sales to China
Canada has overtaken the United States as the top North American supplier of pork to China, as farmers and meat packers in both nations battle for lucrative shares of the biggest global market. Canada’s pork sales to China, after a sharp rise last year, exceeded those of the United States in the first quarter of 2017. That’s only happened a handful of times in two decades, according to US and Canadian government data. Rising affluence is driving China’s voracious appetite for pork, including parts of the pig – feet, elbows, innards – which command little value in most countries. At the same time, tightened environmental standards in China have forced farm closures and boosted demand for cheaper imports. That’s a bonanza for Canadian farmers, who have almost completely removed the growth drug ractopamine from their pigs’ diet – largely because it is banned in China, which consumes half the world’s pork. US exports to China are limited because only about half of the nation’s herd has been weaned off the drug, according to US hog producers, meat packers and animal feed dealers. But major US-based firms are now moving to produce more ractopamine-free hogs – including the three biggest pork producers. The ascension of Canada’s pork exports underscores the power of the gargantuan Chinese market to influence agricultural practices and profits in supplier countries worldwide. As recently as 2013,…
Canadian pork sector benefits from going ractopamine free
Canada is winning market share in China because U.S. packers and feed mills won’t remove ractopamine from feed, says American economist Canadian pork will keep going through the front door to China while U.S. pork sneaks through back doors left open by Canada and the European Union, says a leading American hog market analyst.
“They’ll be a long-time buyer.” As well, he urged Canadian hog farmers to examine why they aren’t receiving a premium over the average North American price because Canada is becoming the hub for offshore pork sales.
However, Canada has gone almost entirely racto-free, so its sales to China have been booming.
In 2016 China vaulted to become the second biggest buyer of Canadian pork by volume at 313,915 tonnes.
That leaves the U.S. to backfill the customers that Canada and the EU are now ignoring in order to meet Chinese demand, Hayes said.
The booming Chinese demand for pork imports will continue for at least a year and probably 18 months, he said.
Whether it will continue beyond that depends on the choices Chinese hog farmers make about relocating to Manchuria in northern China.
If they don’t move and production doesn’t boom in Manchuria to make up for slumping production in the central and southern regions, then China will probably remain a major pork buyer.
China has been importing about 250,000 tonnes per month.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Hayes.