China’s vigorous testing of all inbound frozen food shipments for virus risk, as well as the recovery in domestic hog numbers, could cause meat imports to plunge as much as 30% next year.
Long and cumbersome testing procedures increase the risks for meat importers, prompting them to buy less at a time when domestic pork prices have retreated from record levels, said Lin Guofa, a senior analyst at Bric Agriculture Group, a Beijing-based consulting firm.
Moreover, some mainland consumers are wary of overseas frozen meat due to concerns over food safety, according to Rabobank Group’s senior livestock analyst Pan Chenjun, who sees imports extending declines this winter.
China began testing cold food shipments for the coronavirus in June in a move it says is aimed at protecting public health, after imported salmon was singled out as a possible culprit for Beijing’s fresh Covid-19 outbreak that month.
Despite the small number of food samples that were found to be contaminated, the Chinese government asked for all overseas shipments of cold-chain products to be disinfected, while banning sales of imported frozen meat that do not have quarantine certificates or traceability information.
China’s meat and offal imports have already tumbled to their lowest since February, the height of the country’s coronavirus outbreak that led the top buyer to enter lockdown, crushing demand and jamming up global supply chains. Still purchases for the whole year are set to reach a record as domestic hog herds are still recovering from their ravaging by African swine fever.
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