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MARKET: Pork rib prices in China soar with the ban on German imports
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Pork rib prices in China soar with the ban on German imports
停止所有德国猪肉进口后 排骨价格飙升

BT 202011 MARKET 03The recent ban on pig meat imports from Germany, China’s number one pork supplier, has caused the cost of China’s most popular pork rib dishes to skyrocket, hitting hard on restaurants still in the process of post pandemic recovery.

Although pork ribs are one of China’s favourite, bestselling menu items, most restaurants have relied on imports of the meat since it can be up to 10 times cheaper than local sources.

Germany has been among the most dominant suppliers of ribs to China, accounting for about 14% of China’s pork imports worth around 1 billion euros annually. The volume doubled in the first four months of this year as the country’ local output shrank by almost 20%.

BT 202011 MARKET 02Germany was able to secure its position until it confirmed its first case of African swine fever, an incurable hog disease, in early October. The swine fever spreads through contact with infected animals’ body fluids and can also be spread by people and trucks. It is almost always fatal in pigs and there is no cure or vaccine available. It has, however, not been proven to harm people.

Germany’s enormous pork sales to China involve huge volumes of pig ears, feet and tails that are usually not consumed by Europeans. The current situation therefore gives rise to the question among German farmers of “Where can these items be sold now?”

The recent ban is expected to benefit other major pork suppliers, such as the United States, Spain, and Brazil, which are already well positioned to ship more pork to China. It is also likely that they will boost their global prices amid the rising demand.

BT 202011 MARKET 05Prices of frozen ribs have already shown a significant increase since Beijing halted all German pork imports. Restaurant owners complain that this has caused eroding profits just as the number of customers finally reached normal levels after the coronavirus pandemic. The price rise also comes after domestic pork hit sky-high prices last year as China’s production dropped due to its own African swine fever outbreaks.

China boosted imports by 134% in the first eight months of 2020 to partially offset its shortfall, although the country produces about half of the world’s pork. However, the price of imported back ribs had already almost doubled from last year’s price to 11 yuan per kilogram in May, amid the strong demand. About half a tonne of ribs are being used by restaurants every week, of which almost half would typically come from Germany, and the rest from Spain, Denmark, the United States, etc… However, the United States, China’s largest pork supplier overall, can do little to supplement China’s supplies as they consume more ribs at home than European countries.

BT 202011 MARKET 04Spain, another of China’s major rib suppliers, will benefit from the higher prices, along with other European suppliers like Denmark and the Netherlands.

Even though domestic pork prices are falling as China rebuilds its huge hog herd, they still remain much higher than for European items. Local restaurants say that domestic ribs are out of reach as prices soar.

China said that it will auction another 20,000 tonnes of frozen pork from its state reserves. The world’s top pork consumer has already sold 570,000 tonnes of the meat from its reserves this year to help to cool high prices after the African swine fever outbreaks decimated the country’s massive pig herd.


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