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Pork imports have already hit the nadir and there seems to be no letup in demand, considering that domestic supplies are likely to remain constrained for some time.
"The gap between supply and demand is bound to increase within the next few years, despite an expected recovery from diseases and the reduction of small-scale pork farmers," said Wang Xiaoyue, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Ltd.
"China's pork imports will continue to rise due to strong demand and competitive pricing on imports," he said.
The sharp decline in pork production last year led to record imports. China's imports of pork and pork offal reached 1.35 million tons, up 50 percent over 2010, with the US being the largest exporter, accounting for more than half of the total volume, according to the General Administration of Customs.
At the same time, China has also become a top lure for meat exporters as demand has been climbing steadily. Most of the major pork exporting nations from Europe, North and South America are knocking on China's doors.
China's imports of pork and pork offal reached their peak in 2008 with a volume of 910,000 tons. In 2010, the country imported 900,000 tons of pork, with Denmark being the major supplier, followed by the United States, Canada and France.
"As a country develops economically, the first quality of life aspect that improves at the household level is the carbohydrate to protein ratio on the daily diet. Greater economic prosperity among consumers on the mainland has directly translated into higher shares of animal protein such as pork," said Jorge Sanchez, director of agricultural trade office at the US consulate in Guangzhou.
"An increase in pork consumption creates opportunities for US pork farmers, because the unit price increases are fueled by consumer demand."
Ma Chuang, deputy secretary-general of the China Animal Agriculture Association, said that the country's surging demand for pork and pork offal implies an optimal export scenario because Chinese consumers tend to place higher value on pork offal, which is not eaten in Western countries. As a result, overseas farmers can profit considerably from pork offal exports.
Pork imports stood at 467,000 tons last year, and pork offal stood at 882,200 tons. Pork offal such as pig's heads, knuckles and haslet (a form of meatloaf), accounted for 65 percent of the total volume.