China increases live cattle imports
Over the first quarter of 2020, China imported 61,729 cattle, up by 31.4% from the same period last year. Australia and New Zealand have remained the main suppliers of live animals in the country, with 44,000 head and 17,000 head, respectively. Small shipments of cattle have been arriving in China from Chile and Uruguay but their market share has been almost wiped out in the last couple of years.
Last year, China's live cattle imports reached 199,000 head, with Australia accounting for 80% (160,000 head) and New Zealand ranking second, with more than 30,000 head. In the last few years, China has started a vast operation of building its national cattle herd, live imports growing from 115,000 head in 2017 to almost 200,000 head last year. At the end of 2019, the country's cattle inventory surpassed 91 million head, up 2.23 million head, or 2.5% year-on-year. Official statistics for 2019 show that the fattened stock amounted to about 45 million head, up 1.36 million head, or 3.1% higher than the previous year. China's beef production in 2019 stood 6.67 million tonnes, up by 3.6% compared with 2018. Still, beef production in China is far from covering the domestic demand so beef imports are expected to remain strong in the following years.
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