Thursday, September 5, 2019

China Pork Customers Disappear as Prices Rise

Ten pork vendors at a food market in China's Jinan city sat idly staring at their phones with no customers in sight during a reporter's visit on September 1. A vendor manning a booth sponsored by the Jinluo meat company explained that customers had largely vanished recently as pork prices had nearly doubled. He quoted prices ranging from 28 to 30 yuan per 500g, over $4 per pound.

Two customers asking about prices walked away shaking their heads when told a price of 26 yuan. A vendor told the reporter that his sales had fallen from 250 kg to 150 kg per day since prices had risen. Smaller vendors had seen steeper drops in sales from 50 kg to 15 kg per day. Another vendor said the profit margin had also shrunk from 0.5 yuan per kg to .15 yuan per kg.

A commerce bureau official explained that many farmers had killed off their sows during 2018 when prices fell below the cost of production. The northeast and northern plain regions had the steepest decline in production capacity. A farmer in Shandong Province said that farmers began liquidating their herds in August 2018 when African swine fever began spreading in the province. The peak consumption season during a string of holidays from September through February is putting upward pressure on prices now.
Weekly average prices reported by China Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

In Shenzhen on Sept. 3-4, retail prices for lean pork were 30 yuan per 500g. At a wholesale market, 25-kg boxes of frozen lean pork sold for 16-17 yuan/500g. Frozen pork bellies were about 15 yuan/500g. The reporter explained that frozen pork being sold now was produced before prices started rising and prices are less sensitive to market conditions than fresh pork prices. In a Shenzhen supermarket, a customer complained to the butcher counter attendant that the pork prices were unaffordable, but she eventually left with a small slice.

The attendant told the reporter that many customers would rather buy beef or chicken if they have to pay these prices, but prices of beef and chicken are also rising.

In Liaocheng, a small city in Shandong Province, retail pork sales during January-July were down 31 percent from a year earlier according to local commerce officials. However, sales of beef, mutton, and poultry doubled in Liaocheng, and overall meat sales were up 20 percent.

In Nanning, capital of Guangxi Province, authorities opened discount-price pork shops in ten food markets around the city. The temporary shops, opened this week, sell lean meat, bacon, hindquarters, and ribs at a price 10-percent below the recent 10-day average. Local residents may purchase up to 1 kg.

According to 21st Century Business News, the number of carcasses arriving daily at Beijing's Xinfadi wholesale market has fallen from 2400-2500 per day to 1700-1800. Some vendors said the volume of pork in their market has fallen by half.

With prices rising rapidly, farmers are holding back their hogs as long as possible before sending them to market. The average weight of a dressed carcass (without offal, head or skin) has risen from 35-45 kg to 45-60 kg.

A slaughterhouse in Shaanxi Province has seen its volume shrink rapidly. Although it has contracts with farmers to supply, say, 500 head, they will only give him 200 or 300.

Some farmers are taking advantage of high prices. One 44-year-old farmer in Henan Province with 18 years of experience raising pigs stocked his farm with 7000 piglets in May that he expected to fatten to 110 kg for slaughter in September. Many farmers, however, are worried about African swine fever and the high costs of biosecurity measures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The ASF in China has an impact in Europe as well. For instance in France, 1 kg of pork was 1.18 EUR early March. It is now 1.69 EUR/kg
It is expected to increase, as exports to China will increase, because "the measures taken by the Chinese authorities to limit imports have been exhausted"