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Smithfield Foods to Prioritize U.S. Customers Before Export


With the possibility of the U.S. exporting significant quantities of pork to China as a result of the ongoing and extensive outbreak of African swine fever, Smithfield Foods, owned by the WH Group of China has indicated that it would prioritize supplying pork to the U.S. customer base.

For the week ending October 3rd 2019, China purchased 142,000 metric tons of pork from the U.S. compared to 20,000 tons in September of this year. USDA data confirmed export of 300,000 tons of pork muscle cuts to China in 2019 to date with 135,000 tons anticipated in 2020. China claims importation of 700,000 tons in 2019. The difference may relate as to whether their figure includes carcasses. The USDA intends to clarify the discrepancy in a future advisory. For 2019 to date China has imported 1,330,000 tons of pork in various forms nearly double the quantity imported during the corresponding first eight months of 2018.

The commitment to prioritize U.S. customers was made by Arnold Silver, Director of Raw Materials Procurement for Smithfield at a national meeting at the beginning of October. U.S. producers expanded by four percent in 2019 but prospects for wide-scale expansion will be limited in 2020.

Increased demand for hams and pork bellies by China may result in shortages in the U.S. resulting in greater consumption of turkey and broiler meat.