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2017 will see record pork volume shipped to China

International agricultural bank Rabobank expects 2017 to see a record volume of pork being shipped to China.

China, the world’s most populous country already increased pork imports to record levels in 2016 and Rabobank forecasts these import levels will remain constant next year. China’s beef and poultry imports are also expected to rise. The bank predicts that the country will continue to exert a huge influence on global meat markets.

Annual outlook for meat market

The prediction is included in Raboank’s report Prices Under Pressure in a Supply-Driven Market: Global Outlook for Animal Protein in 2017. The bank releases an outlook every year.

One other remarkable projection in the report is that global meat prices will come down in 2017, Rabobank expects. This is due to a continuation of high productivity and strong competition on international export markets.

Predictions for United States

In a press release, the bank stated that in the US, production is expected to continue growing, but consumers’ appetites are being tested as record levels are reached.

The strong dollar and uncertainty over future trading relationships with China and Mexico create potential headwinds for American producers. The US is currently the world’s largest exporter of pork to China, excluding the EU.

Prices under pressure

In a press release, Justin Sherrard, the bank’s global strategist – animal protein, said: “In a market driven by supply, we expect prices to come under pressure next year – a boon to consumers but a clear challenge for producers and processors.”

“With rising demand, we forecast that China will maintain its 2016 record levels of pork imports next year and could increasingly seek something akin to ‘imports-plus’, locking in supply as it targets food safety and security for its growing population.”

China is likely to import record numbers of pork in 2017 to meet demand of its growing population. Photo Bert Jansen
China is likely to import record numbers of pork in 2017 to meet demand of its growing population. Photo Bert Jansen

He continued to say, “Meanwhile, US producers head into 2017 grappling with the potential of changes to the country’s trade policy and further currency movements. Indeed, with worldwide currency fluctuations depending on political machinations as well as central bank decisions, we are becoming accustomed to expecting the unexpected.”

Challenges in a complex market

Elsewhere, Rabobank predicts an increasingly complex production market, making it more challenging for producers to exploit opportunities. They may come under additional pressure to adapt their systems to mitigate threats including the focus on antibiotics use, the attention on livestock as a source of greenhouse gases and growing retailer competition. The bank highlights that this complexity is creating new growth opportunities for the producers and processors that read the market well and respond swiftly.

They are likely to respond by strengthening supply chains, co-ordinating inputs and increasing transparency to improve traceability in supply chains, the bank says.

Sherrard added: “The onus is very much on producers to mitigate the concerns of consumers, particularly around animal health and welfare issues, by adapting their production models and supply chains. This is a challenge which will continue to be a major theme in 2017.”

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