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The Tonnage is Moving to China

Touch the Soil News #719 (feature photo – U.S. Dept. of Interior)

By tonnage, we mean pork. The U.S. citizenry prides itself in living in a nation of vast agricultural resources. That pride, however, is not tempered by the reality that America is part of a global market. That means Americans must compete with the world for food produced in America – ditto for Canadians and ditto for the Europeans.

Pork exports into China in the first quarter are at all-time highs as follows:

Canadian pork exports to China in the first quarter of 2017 – 93,000 metric tonnes

U.S. pork exports to China in the first quarter of 2017 – 87,500 metric tonnes

European exports of pork to China in the first quarter of 2017 – 393,365 metric tonnes


If this pace is sustained for the year, it means Canada, the U.S. and the European Union will ship almost 2.3 million metric tonnes. A metric ton is equal to 2,205 lbs. China will import about 5.1 billion pounds of pork this year.

For perspective, Chinese pork imports in 2013 were only 583 metric tonnes. This translates into an almost four (4) fold increase in pork imports since 2013.

On average, the weight of a market hog is about 255 lbs. The USDA reports that prices for live hogs are running around 57 cents a pound or about $145 per hog. The National Pork Producers Council estimates that export demand for U.S. hogs adds about $62 per hog. This means that the base price of pork is about 43 percent higher due to exports. China consumes about half of the world’s production of pork.

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