China’s Beef Imports Higher in March, but Domestic Prices Continue to Soften


Since peaking prior to the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s domestic beef prices have drifted lower – declining nearly 4 percent over the past two months. But prices are still averaging $4.57 per pound, up 10 percent year-over-year.

After a seasonal slump in February, China’s beef/beef variety meat imports rebounded in March – increasing 23 percent year-over-year to 28,562 metric tons (mt). First-quarter imports were up 44 percent to 76,470 mt, with strong growth from main suppliers Australia (38,795, +54 percent), Uruguay (19,685, +37 percent) and New Zealand (10,850 mt, +22 percent). Imports from Canada, however, were up only slightly for the first quarter (3,721 mt, +2 percent) and actually declined in March (1,509 mt, -10 percent).

Hong Kong’s March imports were modestly higher (64,815 mt, +2 percent) as strong growth from the United States (10,565 mt, +20 percent) and Paraguay (1,763 mt, +100 percent) was partially offset by lower volumes from Brazil (36,054 mt, -4 percent), Argentina (3,190 mt, -16 percent), Australia (3,038 mt, -16 percent), Canada (1,399 mt, -47 percent) and New Zealand (1,155 mt, -25 percent).

Hong Kong’s first-quarter imports were up 20 percent to 193,195 mt, including strong growth from the U.S. (37,422 mt, +56 percent) and Brazil (107,108 mt, +17 percent).

Combined China/Hong Kong imports in March totaled 93,927 mt, up 7 percent from last year’s large volume. Combined first-quarter imports were up 26 percent to 269,665 mt.

Import data source: Global Trade Atlas