China is looking to import more meat from countries such as Denmark and Brazil as higher pork prices begin to bite. African swine fever has decimated the domestic pig population, leaving no choice but to import more pork as well as substitutes to satisfy China’s massive demand for meat. The disease, which is deadly to pigs but does not affect humans, has led to mass culls since the disease was first officially reported more than a year ago. The resulting shortages have caused pork prices to reach record levels and also driven up the cost of alternatives such as chicken and beef. On Monday, China added 25 Brazilian meat plants to its list of approved exporters, bringing the total to 89, according to Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture. Meanwhile the Danish food minister, Mogens Jensen, is visiting Beijing on a visit designed to boost exports to China, the world’s largest consumer of pork. “China is Denmark’s sixth-largest export market. We could get even more types of products out in the Chinese supermarkets,” Jensen said. Feng Yonghui, chief analyst at pig industry news portal Soozhu.com, said China had been searching for more supplies from other nations because local supplies were strained. Feng said that the chief future targets were likely to include smaller European countries, such as Finland and Sweden, while Portuguese pork exports had been approved earlier this year. Last month pig prices broke the previous record of 21 yuan (US$2.95) per kilo and Feng said China had been forced to increase its imports of pork as well as meats such as beef and lamb. “Before prices broke records, there wasn’t so much pressure … Now the policies have already come into effect, but it will take around a year to bring the price back under control,” Feng said. Last month Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua warned that pork supplies would be under “extremely severe” pressure in the last quarter of 2019 and the first half of 2020. Hu presided over a teleconference two weeks ago to set out policies and directives on pork production, saying the country could not rely on imports alone. Last year some 8.7 million tonnes of pork were traded globally – of which Chinese imports accounted for 1.6 million tonnes, according to Hu. He said the current supply shortfall was 10 million tonnes, but analysts said the real gap could be much higher. Chinese farmers warned to avoid illegal African swine fever vaccines But Pan Chenjun, an analyst at Rabobank, said China’s imports of pork had been muted through the first half of the year, according to Chinese customs data. Pork imports increased by just 12 per cent year on year in the first seven months of this year, although this is expected to increase in the coming months. However, she said poultry imports had increased by 51 per cent. Pan said that the relatively slow increase in imports in the first half of the year was a result of prices staying low while stocks of frozen meat remained high due to the “extensive liquidation of the pig herd and slower demand”. She also said that while the approval process for new exports was slow, the government may be looking to speed that process up. China moves to quell rising anger over soaring pork prices with discounts Feng added that those countries that increased exports to China might see a rise in prices at home. “China’s demand for pork is so large. Whoever increases exports to China will see a certain rise in price,” he said.