pork bellies

china pork imports rising

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china's pork imports are expected to rise 8% to 480,000 metric tons in 2012, despite a forecast rebound in domestic production of the meat, the u.s. department of agriculture's beijing attache. chinese authorities, who view affordable pork as "important for social stability," have increased subsidies in an effort to cut the country's $1.5 billion import bill and tame surging pork prices, the usda said.

the u.s. government body forecast higher prices and the resumption of government subsidies will boost pork output by 4% to 51.3 million metric tons from early next year. total meat production is forecast to rise 3% to 81.4 million tons.

yet rising feed costs--corn prices reaching more than 2,400 yuan a ton on the dalian exchange last week--increasing wages and concerns about more outbreaks of disease means many farmers have been reluctant to boost output.

"small producers also fear another cycle of oversupply and low prices in the future," the usda's report said.

rising consumption of meat, particularly of pork, is considered a major driver for world meat and grain markets. the usda said it expects china's pork consumption in 2012 to rise 4% to 51.5 million tons, up from 49.7 million tons the previous year as per capita demand rises to 38 kilograms a head.

as a result, china's live hog imports will continue rising despite domestic herd expansion, reaching 12,000 head in 2012. that represents a 20% increase over the 10,000 heads imported in 2011, itself already double those of the previous year.

"despite the expected recovery in pork production, china's pork imports will continue to rise due to strong pork demand and competitive pricing on imports," the usda's report said.