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Audio: Hong Kong Protests Weigh Heavily on City’s Economy and Impact Consumer Choices

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At the recent USMEF Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Ariz., Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, reported to producers and exporters on the volatile situation in Hong Kong, where large-scale street protests have been taking place for several months.

Haggard, a longtime resident of Hong Kong, notes that protesters have been successful in disrupting Hong Kong’s public transportation system, often stifling economic activity in the city’s main shopping areas. The number of tourists, especially from mainland China, has declined significantly since the protests heightened, which is having a harsh impact on Hong Kong’s hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) sector. On the other hand, neighborhood supermarkets and taverns have seen brisk activity, as Hong Kong residents are more inclined to eat at home or choose food and beverage outlets closer to home.

Haggard adds that the economic slowdown is definitely impacting Hong Kong’s demand for imported meat, but it is not the only factor holding back red meat trade this year. Traders’ ability to re-export from Hong Kong has been in decline for some time, and mainland China’s tight hog and pork supplies due to African swine fever are also lowering the volumes of fresh pork entering Hong Kong.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation (www.USMEF.org) is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.