China’s January pork/pork variety meat imports totaled 125,410 mt, which was steady with the previous month but down 20 percent from the large volume in January 2013. Hong Kong’s imports (excluding imports from China) were steady with last year at 60,156 mt. For China and Hong Kong combined (and excluding Hong Kong’s re-exports), the January total was 135,422 mt, down 27 percent from a year ago.
Compared to January 2013, China imported more pork from Spain, Poland, Chile and the UK, and this was only partially offset by smaller imports from its leading suppliers, the United States (32,479 mt, -30 percent) and Denmark (20,752 mt, -23 percent). Imports from Canada (12,707 mt, -22 percent) and Germany (9,555 mt, -60 percent) were also lower. Hong Kong imported more pork from Germany (13,617 mt, +48 percent) and the U.S. (8,011 mt, +23 percent), while its imports from Brazil (10,090 mt) were steady.
China’s wholesale prices for imported variety meats improved slightly in January for front and hind feet but were still lower year-over-year – especially for front feet, which were down 10 percent. Tongue, stomach and ear prices were 3 to 4 percent lower than the previous month. Ear and stomach prices were steady with last year but tongues were up 6 percent. In general, large domestic supplies continue to weigh on the pork market, with hog prices down nearly 15 percent from a year ago at $0.91 per pound. This puts the China/U.S. hog price ratio at 1.20 to 1, the lowest since 2010.
China’s piglet prices have been mostly steady recently but are still down 16 percent from a year ago. One factor that may offer support for prices in coming weeks is that poultry demand in China has been hit hard by avian influenza, and this could bolster red meat consumption. China’s January beef/beef variety meat imports totaled 28,619 mt. This was down from the large December volume, but similar to the October-November totals and up 43 percent from a year ago. Imports from leading supplier Australia totaled 14, 749 mt, up 55 percent from a year ago. Imports from Uruguay (7,202 mt, +29 percent) were also higher.
Hong Kong’s January beef/bvm imports were also large at 68,822 mt, up 20 percent from a year ago and fairly steady with the previous two months. Imports from the United States (14,243 mt) were up 64 percent from a year ago but below the pace established in the fourth quarter of last year. Imports from Brazil were up 22 percent to 39,321 mt, which was largest volume since July. Combined China/Hong Kong beef imports in January totaled 97,441 mt, up 26 percent from a year ago. Leading suppliers to the region are Brazil (39,321 mt), Australia (16,028 mt), the United States (14,243 mt) and Uruguay (8,115 mt). (Note that Brazil and the United States export only to Hong Kong, while the Australian and Uruguayan totals cover both China and Hong Kong.)