Larger sow inventories and higher pork prices seen in China

March 18, 2021 - China’s hog herd recovery in 2021 will be bolstered by larger sow inventories and high pork prices, according to USDA’s GAIN report.

However, animal disease outbreaks will moderate pork production. Domestic pork prices will encourage both swine operation expansion and strong imports. China’s cattle herd will continue increasing in 2021 as producers expand their herd in response to strong domestic beef prices. Although, beef production will be constrained by competitive beef imports and high feed prices.

E-commerce, cold-chain logistics, and changing consumer preferences for chilled beef will be important drivers in expanding beef consumption beyond China’s 1st tier cities.

Swine Production: China’s slaughter in 2021 is forecast to reach nearly 600 million head. Production has been spurred by larger companies centralizing production, modernizing facilities and implementing biosecurity measures. However, animal diseases and low sow productivity rates will create issues for China’s hog herd with the potential to undermine expansion.

Pork Production: Pork production in 2021 is forecast to increase by 14 percent following record low rates in 2020 as expansions by large companies over the last two years come into use. However, even with expansion in 2021, pork production will remain below pre-ASF levels keeping domestic prices relatively strong.

Pork Imports: Competitively priced imported pork and pork products will continue being an important component of the domestic pork supply. Pork imports in 2021 are forecast to reach 4.5 million metric tons as consumers are increasingly receptive to chilled or frozen pork.

Cattle Production: The cattle herd is forecast to grow to over 97 million head in 2021, driven by strong beef prices and increasing consumer demand for beef products. More beef cattle operators are modernizing production, incorporating imported genetics, and cross-sector integration between dairy and beef cattle production. However, beef cattle’s comparatively longer life-cycle means investments and production will increase gradually.

Beef Production: Beef production is forecast to increase by 4 percent in 2021 as cattle retained in 2020 are brought to slaughter. Beef production will be constrained by the high cost of feed and lower priced imported beef products. Consumer demand for beef products has expanded beyond traditional HRI into ready-to-cook products and quick service delivery.

Beef Imports: Beef imports are consumed both in quick service and high-end HRI sectors. As the economy rebounds in 2021 demand from both food service sectors is forecast to drive increased imports. Additionally, consumer awareness of standardized international cuts such as ribeye, T-bone, and short rib are continuing to drive growth of imported beef.