China pork demand could lead to record corn imports

Country could become self-sufficient or a significant importer in either market, according to Rabobank

If current trends in China’s pork production and industrialization continue, the country’s corn imports could approach 20 million metric tons per year within a five-year time frame, according to a report released by Rabobank‘s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory Group.

China has recently been importing over 0.4 million metric tons of pork per year, in a world market with trade of less than 7 million metric tons per year. China is likely to continue to be an importer of both pork and corn for the foreseeable future, said Rabobank, but how much of each will depend on improvements in the supply chain. China’s pork supply chain is in a transition period, shifting from traditional household farming to modern commercial systems. While both farms and processing plants are growing in size, coordination between the two remains undeveloped, according to the report.

The pace and success of the industrialization that is taking place across China’s pork sector will be a major determinant of whether China will move back towards self-sufficiency or become an even bigger importer, said Rabobank. If China can improve its corn yields and swine feed conversion ratios towards U.S. levels, then goals of self-sufficiency are achievable. If China does not have to import pork, it will need to import corn, and if current trends in China’s pork production and industrialization continue, corn imports will rise significantly.

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