WH Group's meat imports to remain high
China's largest pork processor, WH Group, announced that will keep meat imports high for the rest of the year as prices are expected to remain elevated due to new ASF outbreaks reported in the country. "While Chinese pork prices will ease in the second half as supply expands, they’ll remain significantly higher than overseas, creating an opportunity for higher imports," explain the Group's VP Guo Lijun. Last year, the company imported 700,000 tonnes of meat, mainly pork, supplied from the US and EU aand some volumes of beef and chicken imported from South American countries, according to Bloomberg news agency.
The latest swine fever outbreak in China, especially in northern regions, is partly due to the use of “immature vaccines,” Ma Xiangjie, executive director, said at the briefing. This has hurt domestic hog supplies and may cause prices to remain high. However over the full year, pork prices will probably be lower than 2020, he said, without giving an estimate. WH Group did not detect the virus among the pigs it slaughtered.
The company expects to benefit from the recovery in Chinese consumption and local hog population from the 2018-19 swine fever outbreak, but sees challenges from rising costs and lower supply from the US and Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
WH Group owns SmithfieldFoods, the largest pork producer in the world. Its Chinese operations contributed 66% to the group’s 2020 profit, while US made up 24%, according to Guo. The company is planning to expand poultry sales this year.