Weekly Product Updates

W4 Pork Update: Global Pork Leads Moderate Trade Growth, While China Battles ASF and Oversupply

Frozen Pork Ham & Shoulder
Published Feb 2, 2024

USDA Expects Moderate Rise in a Stagnant Global Meat Market

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2024 global meat market forecast highlights the unique trajectory of the global pork trade. While beef and other meats face sluggish growth, pork stands out as a potential bright spot with projected moderate expansion. The overall picture suggests moderate growth.

The Southern Common Market countries (Mercosur), led by Brazil (+2.8%), Argentina (+3%), Uruguay (+3.7%), and Paraguay (+2.3%), are expected to drive pork export year-on-year (YoY) growth in 2024. Australia (+7%) and India (+2%) are also forecasted to see increased YoY exports, driven by factors like competitive production costs and strategic trade agreements.This moderate trade expansion contrasts with the projected decline in the United States (US) with an 8% drop and the European Union (EU) with a 3% export decline, potentially impacted by domestic market dynamics and competition. Overall, global beef exports are estimated to reach 12.09 million metric tons (mmt) in 2024, showing a modest 1.3% YoY increase. China's pork import volume is anticipated to decrease by 0.6% YoY, while the US is forecasted to increase by 2% YoY. Japan and South Korea are expected to maintain stable import levels.

Pork's affordability compared to other meats makes it an attractive option for consumers, particularly in developing economies. Rising demand in these markets aligns with the projected export growth from Mercosur countries. While growth is projected to expand, pork production remains relatively stagnant compared to poultry and aquaculture, which have seen significant increases since 2000, while the US and EU face potential challenges due to domestic market factors and competition, potentially leading to declining export, Mercosur, Australia, and India stand to benefit from expanding exports, driven by factors like cost competitiveness and trade agreements. The US remains the leader in per capita meat consumption, followed by Argentina and Australia, with pork contributing significantly to dietary intake.

Record High Pork Production in China Fueled by Oversupply and ASF Concerns

China experienced a surge in pork production in 2023, reaching the highest level since 2014 at 57.94 mmt, reflecting a 4.6% YoY increase. This growth was driven by heightened slaughtering activities as livestock farmers grappled with oversupply and sought to mitigate losses from African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks.
The most pronounced surge in slaughter occurred in the last quarter of the year, contributing to a 7% increase in production to 14.93 mmt. However, the overall decrease of 4.1% in the total number of pigs to 434.2 million heads suggests significant livestock losses, potentially indicating a severe impact from disease outbreaks throughout the year. Despite increased production, demand for pork did not witness the typical seasonal uptick, resulting in a negative impact on prices. Pork futures contract prices plummeted by 38%, reaching their lowest level since 2021, adversely affecting the industry's cash flow. In addition to pork, China's production of other key meat types also rose notably, with YoY poultry production increasing by 4.9% to 25.63 mmt, beef by 4.8% to 7.53 mmt, and lamb by 1.3% to 5.31 mmt.

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