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China wants to rely almost entirely on pork produced at home

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China, the top pork consumer, has set a long-term goal to be almost completely self-sufficient in the staple, with big hog farms dominating the industry, as the nation seeks to reduce its dependency on food imports.

[SHANGHAI] China, the top pork consumer, has set a long-term goal to be almost completely self-sufficient in the staple, with big hog farms dominating the industry, as the nation seeks to reduce its dependency on food imports.

The country has been ravaged by African swine fever, with herds shrinking by almost half, spurring a surge in meat imports and record pork prices. President Xi Jinping's government is leading a drive to increase efficiency and safety in the food industry, cut wastage and boost reliance on domestic supplies.

China is targeting 95 per cent self-sufficiency in pork, according to a State Council document on developing the livestock industry. The nation will also expand imports of safe meat products from more countries to supplement output. The growth in hog herds will boost overseas purchases of soybeans and feed grains needed to fatten the hogs. This comes at a time when the country is already the largest soybean buyer, and is on track to become the top corn importer.

A country with millions of small pig farms breeding less than 500 pigs a year, China has now set a target that 70 per cent of all hog farms should be large scale by 2025, rising to 85 per cent by 2030, while treatment and usage of animal waste are to reach goals of 80 per cent and 85 per cent respectively, according to the plan.

Hog inventories are already expanding, with herds rising for a seventh straight month in August, signalling growing confidence among breeders. More than 11,000 new large-scale farms have become operational, according to the agriculture ministry, with companies like Wens Foodstuffs Group, Muyuan Foodstuff Co and New Hope Liuhe Co engaged in ambitious programs.

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China is also aiming for basic self-sufficiency in poultry and eggs. The country mostly imports chicken feet, which are considered a delicacy. The nation plans to meet about 85 per cent of its beef and mutton demand and more than 70 per cent of dairy consumption from local output, according to the plan.

The country will upgrade its slaughtering industry by building more modern abattoirs and shuttering small ones. Slaughter houses will be built near farms to shorten the distance animals travel and avoid the spread of disease.

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