China's pork, beef imports surge in September

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(This October 13 story has been refiled to change timeframe in paragraph 2 to nine months, not eight months)

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s pork imports in September surged 76% from a year earlier while beef imports came close to a monthly record, as it stocked up on proteins after disease decimated its huge hog herd, customs data showed on Monday.

Pork imports CNC-PORK-IMP for the first nine months of the year were 1.33 million tonnes, up 43.6% from the same period a year earlier, said the General Administration of Customs in a statement.

That brought September arrivals to 166,000 tonnes, according to Reuters calculations, and slightly ahead of last month’s 163,000 tonnes.

The deadly African swine fever has reduced the world’s top pig herd by almost 40%, according to official data, after spreading unchecked throughout the country and leaving many farmers unwilling to replenish their farms.

The slump in the herd has pushed retail pork prices up by 84% year-on-year to 43.4 yuan ($6.14) per kg while the country’s food price index is at its highest since January 2012.

Imports of beef, usually more expensive than pork, also seem to be benefiting from the meat shortage, with Reuters calculations putting September arrivals at 149,666 tonnes.

That's up 50% on a year ago, and just shy of the record monthly volume of 152,213 tonnes in July this year. CNC-BEEF-IMP.

For the first nine months, beef imports came to 1.13 million tonnes, a 53.4% jump from a year ago, customs said.

Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Kim Coghill