June 19, 2017 / 10:46 AM / 2 years ago

When pigs fly: China imports hogs amid worries over weak pork demand

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s central Hunan province took delivery of 1,012 American boars on Sunday, state media reported, the latest sign that producers in the world’s top pork market are expanding herds even as concerns grow about slowing demand and overcapacity.

FILE PHOTO - Feral swine are pictured in this undated photo from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Clint Turnage/Courtesy USDA APHIS/Handout via REUTERS

The boars, which arrived in a chartered plane at the provincial capital Changsha, will be quarantined for 45 days before they are distributed to pig farms in Hunan and neighboring areas, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

Hunan is one of China’s top hog-producing regions.

The imports are expected to improve the quality of local breeding swine, Wang Xinwu, deputy head of the province’s inspection and quarantine bureau, was cited as saying.

“It shows that hog producers in China are expanding, given profits are currently quite good,” said Alice Xuan, an analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence.

Analysts have warned, though, that China’s rising hog production due to rapid herd-building by farmers this year will damage profits in 2018.

China has been importing breeders since as early as the 1990s - from countries including the United States, Canada and Denmark - as foreign varieties have a shorter growing cycle and a higher percentage of lean meat, Xuan said.

“They want steady supplies of breeders, which will help reduce farming costs and epidemic risks at the same time,” she said.

The U.S. hogs were imported by China Animal Husbandry Group. They were selected from six pig farms in the United States and underwent a quarantine inspection there before being loaded on a plane for the flight to Hunan, according to Xinhua.

China Animal Husbandry Group was not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue

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