The USDA has raised its pork export forecast for both 2019 and 2020 due in large part to the significant growth in Chinese demand for more U.S. pork. China’s growing demand for pork imports is a direct result of the African Swine Fever outbreak that spread throughout the country in 2018 and continued into this year.
To help fill the gap between supply and demand, China turned to more imports from the U.S. and other countries. Despite retaliatory tariffs of up to 78 percent implemented on U.S. pork products, 2019 U.S. exports of pork to China have increased 91 percent through August. Total U.S. pork exports in 2019 are now forecast at 6.85 billion pounds, 12 percent higher than last year. In 2020, USDA is forecasting total U.S. pork exports of 7.3 billion pounds, an 11 percent jump over this year.
As of September, China’s pork inventory was down 41 percent from the previous year. Many farmers slaughtered their animals to prevent herds from becoming infected. By October, Chinese hog and pork prices had doubled compared to a year earlier, as pork supplies quickly grew tighter.