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Shifting winds in global pork trade

By Jean-Paul MacDonald

The world of pork trade is witnessing a fascinating turn of events. A recent report by Rabobank shines a spotlight on how competition is heating up among major exporters, with Brazil and the US leveraging their low-cost production capabilities to gain an edge. In contrast, Europe seems to be facing music with rising market and regulatory requirements related to animal welfare and sustainability.

Disease pressure continues to cast shadows over the pig sector. Regions experimenting with innovations such as vaccines and gene editing might just pull ahead in this race. African swine fever (ASF) remains a significant concern, reshaping trade patterns, and especially affecting Asia and European exporters.

Brazil is making waves with its cost efficiency. Despite a surge in production costs, it holds a competitive edge over its European counterparts. Capturing 24% of China's pork imports in 2022, Brazil is now China’s second-largest supplier.

Europe is dancing to a different tune. Facing a projected 8% decline in production in 2023 and higher production costs due to increased sustainability and animal welfare standards, Europe is pivoting more towards local consumption.

North America, on the other hand, is holding its ground as a low-cost supplier, with the US and Canada continuing to play a pivotal role in global trade, thanks to affordable feed and key market access.

Interestingly, China achieved a 95% self-sufficiency in pork production in 2022, yet it continues to be a major importer, alongside Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines.

Global pork consumption is set to grow until 2030. Countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, and China are expected to drive this growth, offsetting the decline in European consumption.


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