Chinese demand for imported proteins has increased drastically in 2019, following the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), which had a devastating effect on its domestic pig population. China’s 2019 pig herd halved compared to 2018 and after the mass slaughter of infected pigs, Chinese consumer demand shifted to other protein substitutes such as beef, chicken and lamb.
From January to October 2019, Chinese beef imports reached 1.31m tonnes, up 54% y-o-y. China imported more than twice the amount of beef from Argentina between January and October 2019 (compared to January to October 2018). Additionally, during the same period, it imported 75% and 90% more beef from Australia and New Zealand, respectively compared to the previous year. As a result, Mintec prices for Argentinian beef were up 24% y-o-y in November.
In the lamb market, New Zealand capitalised on the increasing lamb demand from China. In October, overall New Zealand exports increased by 20% y-o-y to reach 29,400 tonnes, half of which were destined for China. As a result, lamb prices in New Zealand were up 8% y-o-y in November. Also, growth in shipments to China resulted in reduced shipments to the EU, Mexico, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. Thus, Mintec EU lamb prices were up 5% y-o-y in November due to the tightened supply from New Zealand to the EU.