China's prices for pork ribs rise after German imports are banned

The cost of China's popular pork rib dishes is rising after Beijing halted imports of pork from main supplier Germany. This particularly affects restaurants that have still not recovered from the consequences of the corona crisis that occurred earlier this year.
Pork ribs are one of China's best-selling menu items, but many restaurants that specialize in the cut rely on imports that can be up to ten times cheaper than local produce.
Germany was among the largest suppliers of ribs to China until it confirmed its first case of African swine fever, an incurable pig disease, earlier this month.
After Beijing stopped all German pork imports, frozen ribs prices rose and eroded their profits, according to restaurant owners.
China, which produces roughly half of the world's pork, increased imports by 134% in the first eight months of this year to partially offset a shortage in its domestic production.
In view of the strong demand, the imported back ribs almost doubled from the previous year's price to 11 yuan (€ 1.37) per kilogram in May, said the manager of a restaurant chain based in Inner Mongolia.
The restaurant sells about half a ton of ribs each week for its 29-yuan ribs with soup or fermented cabbage and a bowl of rice. About half usually come from Germany, the rest from Spain, Denmark or elsewhere.
This week prices rose to 14 yuan, the manager said, adding that they could hit 16 yuan by next week.
"It costs me an additional 300 yuan a day, which is the wages of three other employees. I hope I can survive this year," he said.
Imported pork, usually frozen, is used by restaurants and canteens rather than supermarkets, where consumers prefer to buy fresh, locally sourced meat.
The prices for imported ribs have risen faster than other cuts of pork, as Germany was the most important supplier with this product, said Liu Xiaofeng, managing director of the consulting firm Meat International Group.
Nearly 20,000 tons of spare ribs were shipped to China in May, he said. Replacement rib prices rose from 38 yuan per kilo to 44 yuan last week.
The United States, China's largest overall pork supplier, consumes more ribs at home than European countries, which means it can barely complement China's supply.
Spain, another major rib supplier to China, will benefit from the higher prices along with other European suppliers such as Denmark and the Netherlands.
Although domestic PORK-CN-TOT-D pork prices are falling as China rebuilds its huge pig herd, they remain much higher than European products.
Domestic back ribs went on sale for 52 yuan per kilogram last week.
Increasing menu prices is not an option without deterring customers who have only just returned after the corona crisis.

Hansa Terminhandel GmbH
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