UPDATE 1-China August meat imports fall but year-to-date imports surge

(Adds details on slowdown, annual imports)

Sept 7 (Reuters) - China imported 832,000 tonnes of meat in August, customs data showed on Monday, down almost 17% from last month, although imports remain high as Beijing tries to plug a shortfall in domestic pork production.

Meat imports in July had reached 998,000 tonnes, but shipments had been expected to slow as exporters suspended cargoes from plants where workers have been infected with the coronavirus.

China is also taking additional measures to test arriving shipments for the presence of the virus, which has slowed cargo clearance at some ports.

The August number is the lowest since May when China imported 816,000 tonnes of meat.

Imports for the first eight months of the year are still up 73% at 6.58 million tonnes, the General Administration of Customs said on Monday. Customs only began releasing monthly data for all meats combined this year.

China’s pork output fell 20% in the first half of the year after the fatal hog disease African swine fever ravaged its huge hog herd over the last two years. (Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Richard Pullin)