U.S. pork could fill the supply gap if it clears a couple of roadblocks
By Jonathan Martin
China could need up to a decade to recover from its bout with African swine fever (ASF), which might be good news for American meat exporters.
Many Chinese producers are experiencing a drop in production of up to 45 percent, Bloomberg reports, which leaves a hole commodity analysts say American producers have the opportunity to fill.
“We haven’t seen a jump in exports to China yet, however. At least not substantially,” Ralph Loos, U.S. Meat Export Federation’s director of communications, told Farms.com.
Exports are lagging, at least in part, because of a lack of storage space. Chilled storage facilities at many major Chinese ports have no room. The country predicted its citizens would have a much higher demand for protein products than they did, so its scramble to bring in as much foreign meat as possible ended up leaving many American producers out in the cold.
The stockpile won’t last forever, though, Maurizio Agostino, chief commodity strategist with Farms.com Risk Management, said. After all, China is the world’s largest pork consumer.
“Everybody’s watching what’s happening with the hunt for an ASF vaccine,” Agostino said. “Some people think it’s right around the corner and some think it’ll take five or 10 years to develop one that works.
“Either way, Chinese farmers are going to have to restock, but they’re nervous about going through with it in case the disease spreads to their newly purchased herd.”
Another issue affecting U.S. pork exports to China is the countries’ ongoing trade spat. U.S. President Donal Trump launched a series of tariffs against China in retaliation for its violation of international trade law and Chines President Xi Jinping responded in kind.
The two heads-of-state met in Osaka, Japan, where they agreed to resume trade talks, though the details of the discussion are murky.
“Regardless, step one has to be sorting out the trade issues,” Agostino said.