More U.S. pork, beef plants approved for export to China

China still fourth largest for U.S. beef exports, remains biggest destination for U.S. pork variety meat exports.

China’s General Administration of Customs recently approved 18 U.S. beef establishments and 12 U.S. pork establishments for export to China – the first new U.S. plants cleared for export to China in about 10 months.

Erin Borror, U.S. Meat Export Federation vice president for economic analysis, says the plant approval process was streamlined by the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement and it has worked well since the agreement was implemented in early 2020. However, a recent delay has been concerning for the U.S. meat industry.

“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. And fortunately for U.S. beef and pork, Phase One takes precedence,” Borror says.

“USDA Food Safety Inspection Service plant approvals are still what is recognized by China. And up until about December of last year, that process was working and in place and then this year, in 2023, we hadn’t seen any plant list updates. 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.”

While the China market is not as “red hot” as in years past, Borror explains it’s still a critical destination for the U.S. pork and beef industries.

“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,” Borror says.

“Our pork variety meat shipments to China this year are up 9% from last year. 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.”