As part of Phase 1 of the US/China trade deal, China agreed to purchase more US goods and one such product has been pork to replace 1/3 of China’s hog population that was decimated in mid-2018 due to African swine fever. Besides pork, China also imported more US beef and poultry products after lifting a prior ban on US poultry. However, one downside of the Phase 1 trade deal has been exasperated by the meat processing plant closing as a result of COVID-19 infections. This has created the issue of too much meat being exported and not enough fresh meat being stocked in US grocery stores.
The U.S. meat shortage and the Phase 1 goals of increasing exports to China seem to be opposing forces, raising the question of whether sales and shipments will or should be limited. Some restrictions would not be surprising given U.S. President Donald Trump’s more combative tone in his recent comments on trade with China.
March 2020 saw the second highest volume of pork to China with the US exporting 95,892 tons, with a combined total of 280,507 tons of pork and pork product exported so far in 2020 (an increase of 300% over the first three months of 2019) with chicken feet being the largest exported US poultry item to China. The combined value of all pork, beef and poultry exports to China for January to March of 2020 totaled $781 million.
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