China’s Hunger for Foreign Meat to Wane as Local Herds Expand

China’s ravenous appetite for imported meat, which helped fuel a global price rally this year, could be nearing an end.

Hog numbers in the world’s biggest pork producer are likely to fully recover from African swine fever by the first half of 2021, according to the agriculture ministry. In the meantime, the government will release more pork from state reserves to bolster supply before the Lunar New Year festival in February.

The rapid recovery in China’s pig population could signal that the strength in U.S. hog prices is about to ease. The global benchmark has climbed more than 50% from a low in April on robust exports to China.

Within the country, a cooling pork market has tipped China’s consumer prices into deflation for the first time in over a decade, and prompted Rabobank to forecast that pork imports could slump 30% next year from a record.

“The recovery has surpassed expectations as plenty of modern pig farms are being rapidly built,” China’s agriculture ministry said Tuesday. “Pork supply over the New Year period will increase by about 30% from a year earlier, and supply security will be further strengthened.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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