This upward trajectory suggests continued growth in the Chinese meat import sector even though the U.S. suffered a 4% decrease.
In a remarkable achievement, China set a new meat import record in July by bringing in a staggering 295,000 tons of bovine meat through its customs. This milestone surpassed the previous high of 273,000 tons recorded just eleven months earlier, marking a significant uptick in meat trade.
The surge in meat imports has triggered a buzz within the market, with discussions focusing on a substantial tonnage of Brazilian meat awaiting authorization for entry into Chinese ports. This development has raised questions about the sustainability of China’s current market momentum in terms of meat imports.
A notable factor contributing to this record-breaking import surge is the delayed entry of a considerable amount of meat held in ports. Brazil capitalised on this opportunity, reclaiming its 50% market share in July, a level it had achieved in the preceding spring. The recovery of this market share comes after it was lost for various reasons, including a self-imposed embargo from February to March, which caused a dip to 19% in May.
This two-month increase of 31 percentage points was at the expense of other key players in the market. Both Argentina and Uruguay experienced a loss of 7% each in their market shares, while Australia saw a reduction of 5%, and the United States and New Zealand each suffered a 4% decrease.
Argentina, despite losing some ground, managed to secure a comfortable second-place position in the market with a 17% share in July, albeit slightly below its average in previous months. In contrast, Uruguay continued to grapple with declining market share, slipping below the 10% mark. This situation, which had occurred only twice in the last 20 months, brought Uruguay’s market share closer to that of Australia, New Zealand, and the USA.
In the realm of pricing, boneless frozen meat has experienced a downward trajectory. After hitting a peak average cif price of USD 7,600 per ton in July 2022, prices consistently declined, reaching USD 5,400 by March. Although there was a brief rebound in April and May, where prices reached USD 5,900, suggesting a potential shift in trend, prices once again dropped in June and July, hitting USD 5,550 in the latter month. Given the current economic scenario in China, characterized by slowing activity and deflationary pressures, making accurate forecasts about price trends remains a challenge.
Historical trends indicate that the second half of the year tends to be more dynamic and engaging in terms of meat imports. In the year so far, China has already imported 1.52 million tons of meat, which is not only 7% more than the same period in 2022 but also a substantial 17% increase compared to 2021. This upward trajectory suggests continued growth in the meat import sector for the foreseeable future.