Chinese pigmeat imports have plummeted in the first two months of 2022 compared with 2021.
In January and February, it imported just 276,000t compared with 689,000t in the first two months of 2021.
This reflects the successful rebuilding of their own pig herd and a particularly weak market.
Imports from all major suppliers fell significantly.
Ireland is the 10th-largest supplier, with 7,620t in the first two months of 2022 which is well down on the 13,632t supplied in the same period last year.
Spain is the top supplier with 81,000t followed by Brazil on 56,000t, Denmark on 31,000t and the US on 25,000t
Beef falls due to Brazil
Beef imports for the first two months were also down compared with last year at 308,000t compared with 398,000 in the same period in 2021.
Unlike pigmeat, this isn’t market related as the volume from Brazil in this period is 111,000t below the same period in 2021.
The reason for this is that Brazil were excluded from the market until the middle of December which in turn means that volumes delivered in January were exceptionally low at 51,000t compared with 162,000t in the first two months of 2021.
The other notable feature of Chinsese beef imports for the first two months of the year was the continued surge in supply from the US.
It was the fourth-biggest supplier with 24,000t, almost double the 13,000t in January and February 2021, which in turn was a dramatic increase on the 1,750t supplied in the first two months of 2020.
Chinese demand for sheepmeat imports in the first two months of 2022 increased to 65,000t up from 49,000t in the same period last year.
New Zealand continues to grow its share of the market there with another record of almost 35,000t, compared with 28,000t in the first two months of 2021.
There was also a huge increase in supplies from Australia at 27,000t, up from just over 18,000t in the same period last year. Uruguay is in a distant third place as a supplier to the Chinese market, sending 3,000t in the first two months of 2022.
China is the main market for internationally traded meat and the strength of that market shapes global prices in each commodity. Its reduction in demand for pigmeat has contributed to a collapse of prices particularly in Europe, their main source of imports in recent years.
It is the opposite with sheepmeat, demand continues to grow which means increasing amounts of New Zealand sheepmeat that would have been previously exported to the EU and UK are now going to China which in turn creates opportunity for Irish sheepmeat exports to other EU countries.
For beef, China buys 20% of all beef traded internationally and notwithstanding the blip in supply from Brazil in the last quarter of 2021, it will likely grow as a market again this year. Unfortunately Irish exports to China remain excluded since May 2020.