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China pork imports jump 24% in April


CHINA imported 136,517 tonnes of pork in April, up 24 per cent from the same month a year earlier, customs data showed on Thursday, as the world's top consumer of the meat stocked up on supplies amid concerns of a looming shortage.

This marked the biggest monthly volume since September 2016, when pork imports topped 140,000 tonnes. The have only come close to such a high level once since then when, hitting 135,900 tonnes in March 2018.

The data from the General Administration of Customs only covers "muscle cuts", or pork meat, and not feet, heads and other offal that China also imports in large volumes.

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China has imported 470,776 tonnes of pork in the first four months of 2019, up 8.4 per cent compared with last year, the data showed.

The surge in imports follows the spread of the African swine fever virus to every province on the Chinese mainland since August last year, reducing the national herd by up to 200 million animals, according to one estimate.

With domestic pork production expected to be down by at least 30 percent in 2019, importers began buying up supplies from abroad earlier this year. Some food processors are also stepping up imports to guarantee their packaged and frozen products do not contain the African swine fever virus, as the government increases checks on processors and restaurants.

Importers have even sourced meat from the United States, despite steep duties on US pork because of the trade war. Some of those orders, however, have since been cancelled. REUTERS