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News 474 views last update:Jul 2, 2008

5% Chinese stake in Smithfield foods

U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods has reported that COFCO Limited, China's largest agricultural trading and processing company, will buy a near-5-percent stake in the company.

COFCO's investment, the company's first in a U.S firm, will assist its expansion in the Chinese pork industry. “We hope we will learn from Smithfield its technology and management advantages in the production chain from livestock breeding to quarantine to consumer table," said a Beijing spokeswoman, adding the move was not aiming at increasing pork imports.

Consumption in China, the world's largest pork producer and consumer, has been growing more than 10 percent annually over recent years. Prices hit record high levels in 2006 following an outbreak of blue-ear disease .

Domestic pork prices were likely to remain high for the rest of the year after the May earthquake in the country's largest pork producing province of Sichuan killed more than 3 million pigs, according to estimates from industry officials.

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