While the covid pandemic has widened the trade rift between the US and China, another prior disease outbreak has actually fuelled the dependence of the world’s top two economies.
In the first five months of 2020, China became the third-largest destination for US chicken meat exports, following the deadly African Swine fever that hit the East Asian country’s pig population, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
China typically accounts for half of the world pork consumption, but after the outbreak of swine fever people have cut the country’s pork output and encouraged greater consumption of chicken meat.
However, China’s dependence on the U.S. for chicken meat is expected to slow in coming months.
China’s chicken meat production and consumption is expected to continue to grow at a modest pace of 3% and 2% in 2021, by which time the country’s swine herd is expected to see a recovery, according to the USDA.
Poultry prices in China have weakened as a result of poultry industry expansion.The country’s imports of chicken meat are expected to decline by 16% in 2021.
With the closure of restaurants, schools and food processing factories following the pandemic, overall demand for the country’s chicken meat has started halting the expansion seen in the wake of the African Swine fever.
While China and the U.S. signed a new animal health protocol in February this year that allowed for importation of live birds from the U.S., the health certificate required for such shipments is still under discussion.
Many live bird markets and wholesale wet markets in China have also been forced to close down following the covid outbreak as the virus was thought to have originated from one of such markets.