The biannual report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the meat industry, released this month, pointed out that world pork production is expected to reach 94.327 million tons in 2020, down 7.49% from 101.969 million tons produced last year, impacted by African Swine Fever (ASF) in China. According to USDA’s figures, the Chinese herd must close 2020 with 337 million head, up 8.57% from the estimated 310.41 million head in early January. At the end of 2018, the Chinese herd had 428.07 million head. The USDA estimated China’s pork production at 34 million tons in 2020, against 42.55 million tons in 2019, down 20.09%. Official data from the Chinese government pointed out that the country’s pork production fell by 29.1% in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period of the previous year, reaching 10.38 million tons.
In view of the lower supply of protein in the domestic market, the Chinese government has stimulated the consumption of substitute products, such as beef, chicken, fish and others, which results in a decline by 15% in the domestic demand for pork. However, this is not enough to prevent the growth in the supply gap of the country. As a result, imports from China continue to accelerate at record levels. Local data released last week showed that the country imported around 900 thousand tons in the first quarter of 2020. USDA projects Chinese imports at 3.850 million tons, up 57.08% from 2019 (2.451 million tons). The need for imports from China is evident, but the doubt that has been raised is which countries will benefit from sales and whether Brazilian exports will be affected in the coming few months with the deepening of the COVID-19 crisis, which is dramatically changing the global dynamics of supply and demand.