Pork demand an early chapter of China’s import rise

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/12 22:19:48

A breeder sprays disinfectant in a pig farm in Guang'an, Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Tuesday. Photo: VCG

A shortage of pigs in China is changing the very structure of the pork chain outside the nation and reshaping global meat markets, financial information website Marketwatch.com reported, citing a study commissioned by the US National Pork Board. We agree with this view. Soaring pork prices in China may exert an effect on the global economy.

African swine fever, a viral disease deadly to pigs but harmless to human beings, attracted limited public attention until it ravaged China's hog herd. The study shows that the outside world is paying close attention to the Chinese consumer market. 

With a population of about 1.4 billion, China is the world's largest consumer and importer of pork. The nation's pork imports in September surged 76 percent from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data. The impact will be felt elsewhere in the world. 

A jump in China's pork imports has set off a global chain reaction. Take Brazil, for example: The South American country's pork exports to China have soared 40 percent since the beginning of the year, while its domestic pork prices have risen some 30 percent, according to Marketwatch. If China sneezes, will the rest of the world catch a cold? Many people already have their answer.

It is easy to feel the influence of China's pork price fluctuations. Why? That's because China's consumption of meat has increased tremendously as its economy has boomed. According to some statistics, half the world's pork is consumed in China. 

With a growing army of middle-class households, China's consumption power keeps growing. The current discussion about pigs offers a window on China's future consumption influence on the global economy.

Pork is only part of the story. What about other farm goods and consumer products? Many admit that China is now powerful enough to influence US agricultural production. 

As China continues to open up its domestic market to the outside world, China's imports will further expand. An optimistic estimate is that China may overtake the US to become the world's largest importer in the coming decade. 

China is making a fundamental transformation from being the world's factory to the king of world consumption, and the story of pork is just an early chapter.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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