Market News & Headlines >> China's WH Group to Boost Meat Imports

WH Group, China’s largest pork processor, and the parent company of top U.S. pork producer U.S. Smithfield Foods Inc., said it will increase meat imports this year as local prices are likely to stay elevated following the resurgence of African swine fever in the country.

While Chinese pork prices will ease in the second half as supply expands, they’ll remain significantly higher than overseas, creating an opportunity for higher imports, WH Group Vice President Guo Lijun told reporters after announcing full-year results, according to a Bloomberg News report. Last year, the Hong Kong-listed firm imported 700,000 tons of meat, of which U.S. supplied 70% and the rest was from Europe and South America and includes chicken and beef.

The latest swine fever outbreak in China, especially in northern regions, is partly due to the use of “immature vaccines,” Ma Xiangjie, WH executive director, said at the briefing. This has hurt domestic hog supplies and may cause prices to remain high. However, over the full year, pork prices will probably be lower than 2020, he said, without giving an estimate. WH Group did not detect the virus among the pigs it slaughtered.