Boost for U.S. Pork and Beef Exports as China Approves New Plants

In a positive development for the U.S. meat industry, China’s General Administration of Customs has recently granted approval for 18 U.S. beef establishments and 12 U.S. pork establishments to export to China, reports the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). This marks the first approval of new U.S. plants for export to China in nearly 10 months, bringing relief to the industry after a period of delay.

Erin Borror, vice president for economic analysis at USMEF, highlights that the streamlined plant approval process was made possible by the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement.

Borror says, “The Phase One Agreement has many benefits for U.S. agriculture, but particularly related to plant approvals. Since the 2020 implementation of the Phase One Agreement, China has further rolled out plant and establishment registration processes that are fairly complex.”

Despite the complexity of China’s plant and establishment registration processes, the Phase One Agreement takes precedence, recognizing USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) plant approvals. 

“The good news is China did update the establishment list, and that update included 12 pork establishments and 18 beef establishments, and it was a big sigh of relief that China was still recognizing the Phase One Agreement and updating the list as put forward by FSIS, and we still expect to see further updates – hopefully still yet before the end of 2023,” Borror adds.

While beef shipments to China have decreased from the record volumes of 2022, Borror notes that China remains the fourth-largest destination for U.S. beef exports with considerable upside potential. In the pork sector, muscle cut shipments to China have seen a downward trend this year. However, China remains the largest destination for U.S. pork variety meat exports, showing a notable increase of 9% year-over-year to China and a 15% global increase.

Borror emphasizes, “There is plenty of pork in the China market and that’s kind of weighing overall. But we still see China helping to support a record year for U.S. pork variety meat exports.”

Regarding beef shipments, Borror explains, “Shipments to China of beef so far this year are down 23%, but that still puts them as number four after Korea, Japan, and Mexico—so a huge destination for U.S. beef and again one that can turn quickly.”