Dec 25, 2019 07:44 PM

Charts of the Day: China’s Pig Population Grows for First Time in 2019 as Imports Soar

China’s pork imports more than doubled year-on-year in November as the world’s top pork consumer tried to make up for pig shortages and deal with soaring prices due to deadly African swine fever.

Pork imports grew 151.2% last month compared to the same period in 2018, hitting 229,707 tons, General Administration of Customs data (link in Chinese) showed on Monday. That’s up from already substantial 113.9% year-on-year growth in October, and the eighth month of growth in a row. The value of pork imports also skyrocketed to $627.5 million, more than quadrupling year-on-year.

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In the first 11 months of the year, pork shipments rose 57.9% year-on-year to 1.7 million tons, up significantly from a 0.7% decline for the same period last year, according to customs data. A spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce said (link in Chinese) last month that imports of pork and its byproducts could surpass 3 million tons this year.

Agriculture ministry data (link in Chinese) released earlier this month shows that monitored live pig stocks partially rebounded last month amid a government push for a recovery in the pig farming sector, rising 2% compared with October and marking the first month-on-month growth in 13 months.

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But pig production is still far from pre-African swine fever normal levels, as live pig stocks declined over 40% year-on-year in both September (link in Chinese) and October (link in Chinese). The agriculture ministry has not yet issued a comparative figure for November.

Soaring pork prices have had a knock-on effect on China’s economy, pushing consumer inflation to an eight-year high last month. This however doesn’t indicate rebounding domestic demand as core CPI — which excludes more-volatile food and energy prices and which economists say better reflects long-term inflation trends — only posted a modest rise and the producer inflation index (PPI) continued to fall. Pork-driven consumer inflation and contracting PPI have raised concerns about inflation climbing further if policymakers ease monetary policy to shore up the slowing economy.

Pork prices have seen marginal declines since last month. The average wholesale fresh pork price dipped 0.3% week-on-week to 43.8 yuan ($6.24) per kilogram last week, down from a peak of 52.3 yuan last month, but still far higher than 20.7 yuan at the beginning of this year, data (link in Chinese) from the Ministry of Commerce show.

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China is planning to boost pork imports next year, as authorities are to cut the tariffs on frozen pork to 8% from the most-favored nation duty of 12%.

Chen Meng and Su Xueni contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Guo Yingzhe (

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