WH Group reins in growth ambitions for Smithfield meat products in China

Chinese pork producer WH Group is dialing back growth hopes for its U.S. unit Smithfield in the mainland amid weak demand, with a new plant there operating at just a third of capacity and plans for another factory postponed, group executives said.

WH Group, the world’s biggest pork producing company, bought top U.S. pork producer Smithfield in 2013 for $4.7 billion (3.52 billion pounds), at the time the largest takeover of a U.S. company by a Chinese buyer.

The deal gave the Chinese firm access to expertise in processing the Western products increasingly popular in Chinese cities.

It led to an 800 million yuan ($121.22 million) investment by WH Group in a new plant in Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan province to produce Smithfield-branded products for Chinese consumers.

“Chinese consumers think our products are a bit too salty,” Pan Guanghui, general manager at the Zhengzhou plant, told reporters last week, adding that Americans typically eat ham and bacon with bread, lettuce and other ingredients, while Chinese people consume it on its own.

A second Smithfield plant earmarked for Shenyang in north-east China will not go ahead until demand for the product picks up, said group director and head of investor relations Luis Chein.

“We thought we would be able to roll out to more cities, but after a few months we realised we would need more efforts to communicate and educate the consumer,” said Chein.

WH Group’s struggles to boost sales of its U.S. products in China highlight the complexities in the mainland market, where buying a pack of Smithfield ham is still beyond most people’s means, and runs counter to deep-rooted preference for fresh cuts.

 full story – Reuters

Dominique Patton

Pork exports to China commence

The final administration processes have been completed and Northern Ireland’s pork producers have now begun to export their produce to China.

Opening of the trade, which could potentially be worth more than £10million in revenue to the local pork sector, was welcomed by Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey.

The deal, which includes the export of fifth quarter cuts such as trotters, has been a long process but with the final obstacles now cleared the doors are open to a major global market.

Mr Huey said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the Northern Ireland pig industry. Following approval of two slaughterhouses and two cold stores to export pork to China on August 11, we had to wait while the administrative listing processes in China were being completed. This has now been done.


He added: “However, we see this as the first of many opportunities for our agri-food industry and it is our intention to build up this trading relationship with China to enable our beef, poultry and other producers to access that market.”

Mr Huey said the announcement was timely as the Executive Office will host the third UK-China Leaders’ summit in Belfast next weekend when key senior decision makers across China will be in attendance. “

I look forward to welcoming delegates from across China to next weekend’s UK-China Leaders’ Summit in Belfast where no doubt they will have an opportunity to sample the best our food industry has to offer,” he said.

read the full story –Farming Life


What’s your beef? Europe, Latin American trade talks falter

 A battle over beef between the European Union, Argentina and Brazil could push trade talks beyond a year-end deadline and lead to further years of delay.

Beef is the main sticking point. Mercosur countries want their farmers to sell more of their beef in Europe to compensate for a rise in industrial imports. EU farming nations such as Ireland and France are worried their farmers will lose out.

Both sides say they would like a deal signed during a World Trade Organization meeting in Buenos Aires on Dec 10-13.

Mercosur officials say potential beef imports represent about half of the export gains they see from any deal and say the current EU offer is unacceptable.

They are unhappy that Europe has gradually reduced the proposed amount of beef it would accept from Mercosur – from 100,000 tonnes per year in 2004 to 78,000 tonnes in 2016 to 70,000 tonnes in 2017.

Europe’s beef industry says it is already facing a squeeze as consumers shift from red meat. Consumption has fallen 10 percent in the past decade and is seen 16 percent lower than 2007 levels in 2026, according to a European Commission report.

full story – Reuters

Anthony Boadle and Roberto Samora

Russia ban on Brazil meat exports may soon be reversed

A temporary ban imposed by Russia on Brazilian beef and pork exports may be reversed soon, potentially minimizing the impact on local producers, an industry group and a market analyst told Reuters on Tuesday.

Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said on Monday it would place temporary curbs on pork and beef imports from Brazil starting Dec. 1, after the feed additive ractopamine was found in some shipments.

In response, the Brazilian agriculture ministry said that controls in place would ensure pork meat exports to Russia do not contain the additive.

The ministry said it had requested documentation from Russian inspection services, including laboratory evidence of the alleged presence of ractopamine, to conduct an internal investigation into the matter.

The ministry said it would make “corrections” should the claims prove to be true. It said it had not received formal notification of the ban on Brazilian pork and beef exports, just the notification regarding the presence of ractopamine.

ABPA, which represents poultry and pork producers in Brazil, said the temporary ban had caused concern, but said it believed the Brazilian government would be able to act quickly to ensure resumption of shipments.

“The companies affiliated with ABPA respect Russian sanitary laws. The industry is certain about the characteristics of its products and guarantees that pork meat shipments do not utilize ractopamine,” ABPA said in a statement on Tuesday.

Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said on Monday that the additive was allowed in some countries but not Russia.

Brazilian beef processor Minerva SA said on Tuesday that due to the Russian ban on beef imports from Brazil, it would redirect shipments to other markets.



Jake Spring/Gram Slattery

Danish pork exports to China fall

The world’s largest pork exporter Danish Crown has said that its sales to China had fell in the year 2016/2017 after a temporary spike in Chinese supplies prompted by the forced closure of some farms due to tighter environmental rules.

But the firm said it expected to increase sales to China as demand returns from local consumers for Danish meat, which it said already offered high quality and safety standards. China accounts for about 5 percent of Danish Crown’s total sales.

Farmers who were forced to close farms due to the tougher environmental rules had to sell their produce, leading to a surplus in local supplies of the meat.

Danish Crown said it exported about 217,000 tonnes of the meat worth about 403 million euros ($480 million) to the Asian giant in the financial year 2016/17, saying this was lower than exports in 2015/2016. It did not give a comparative figure.

To boost sales in China, Danish Crown has partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to encourage consumers to order more costly cuts of pork online.

The Danish firms will start building a plant to process Danish pork near Shanghai in the first quarter of 2018 for online distribution in the city. If successful, it could expand to Beijing and other big cities.

“China is the most advanced market for e-commerce. It is way ahead of the U.S. and Europe, and we see an opportunity to develop a business model there and understand how to do this,” Chief Executive Jais Valeur told Reuters.

Unlike in Europe, feet, ears and tails are in high demand in China. Valeur expects online distribution to increase demand for cuts traditionally preferred in Europe, such as cutlets.

Danish Crown’s main export competitors in China are Canada and the United States, with Canada overtaking the United States in June as the top North American supplier.

full story – Reuters

Butcher hopes to smash world record with a banger

Christchurch, New Zealand:  A butcher will today try for the world record for making the most sausages in 60 seconds.

Corey Winder, who has been a butcher for over 20 years, needs to make over 78 to take the Guinness World Record.

He said the key to success is having a very fast sausage filler to get the meat into the skin as quickly as possible.

“And then get the hands going as fast as they can possibly go and just link like there is no tomorrow.”

He is confident of success after much practice.

“Sausages are flying out and we are making plenty so I am doing quite a bit.”

Mr Winder said he is backing himself and is aiming to beat the record.

The criteria the judges are looking for is quite tough.

“The minimum length of the sausage 10.16cm, so you can’t just link to any length that you want, there is requirements, they have to be consistent.

“There is a lot of skill in it.”

The sausage making world record attempt will be held in Auckland this afternoon.

full story – RNZ

Andrew McRae

UK beef cleared for export to Philippines

The UK Export Certification Partnership has published the health certificate authorising shipments of British beef to the promising Filipino market. 

The certificate is valid for chilled of frozen beef from cattle of any age, born and raised in the UK, and covers carcase parts only – excluding offal and processed fats.

The document was expected since a formal agreement was announced in August, allowing British beef into the country for the first time since the 1996 BSE crisis. Individual factories must obtain an import permit from the Filipino authorities before shipping products.

The UK beef industry estimates that exports to the Philippines will be worth £34m in the next five years. In its latest beef outlook report, the AHDB noted “strong international demand for forequarters and other cheaper cuts, especially from the Philippines,” with a positive impact on prices, but added that this had not benefited UK export volumes overall. Direct access to the Filipino market is likely to help British exports here.

full story – farmersjournal.ie

Thomas Hubert