The latest reports from China suggest that pig prices remain high and there is little sign of demand for imported pork slowing down.
The high price level is evidenced by wholesale pork prices, which tend to track pig prices closely. Over the last couple of months, these have fluctuated around 25 yuan/kg (£2.70/kg) and, if anything, have been increasing further in the latest weeks.
This would translate into a liveweight pig price of around £2/kg. Prices are now almost 50% higher than a year ago, when they reached a low point of around 17 yuan/kg. Latest figures suggest that, despite the recovery in prices, Chinese sow numbers continue to fall, as many small farmers have stopped production and are reluctant to restart.
The situation in the Chinese market suggests that demand for imports will remain strong for some time to come. Certainly, shipments have started the year strongly, with volumes in the first two months of 2016 up by more than three-quarters compared with the same period last year.
Imports from the EU almost doubled, while the unit value has held up well in euro terms, being 1% higher than a year earlier, at €1.72 per kg. This will be encouraging for EU exporters, including those from the UK, given how important Chinese demand has become since the Russian import ban.