UPDATE 1-China April meat imports up 6.9% y/y at 922,000 tonnes -customs

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BEIJING, May 7 (Reuters) - China imported 922,000 tonnes of meat in April, up 6.9% from the same month a year earlier, customs data showed on Friday, as the world’s top pork producer continues to face domestic shortages.

China’s output of pork has plunged following outbreaks of deadly hog disease African swine fever since 2018, spurring strong demand for imports of pork and other meat.

The imports were only slightly lower than the record 1.02 million tonnes that arrived in March, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.

The large shipments came even as China’s output of pork surged in the first quarter following intensive efforts to restock and expand farms last year.

A fresh wave of African swine fever and other diseases over winter prompted farms, wary of the risk of infection, to send pigs to slaughter early, increasing the volume.

Though domestic pork prices PORK-CN-TOT-D fell sharply in recent months, imports are expected to remain high, with a supply shortage set to last through the rest of the year.

Meat imports in the first four months of the year reached 3.55 million tonnes, up 16.9% from the same period last year, the data also showed. (Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue)