China is now expected to import 233,000 metric tons of broilers in 2012, 17,000 tons less than its previous estimate, according to a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) semi-annual poultry GAIN report this month from Beijing. In 2011, China imported 238,000 tons of broilers and in 2010 imported 286,000 tons.  The report said that the reduced estimate reflects less consumer demand for broiler meat as pork prices continue to fall.  Pork is the traditional animal  protein favored by Chinese consumers, the report stated.

In a related trade news, the GAIN report noted that in March 2012 Canada approved market access for ten Chinese cooked-poultry processing plants.  There have been no shipments to date.  The Foreign Agricultural Service in Beijing will continue to monitor and report on this new development,  the report said.

FAS revised its 2012 forecast for Chinese broiler production downward to 13.7 million tons, 70,000 tons lower than the initial estimate for 2012.  The slight downward revision is attributable to a decline in average slaughter weight.  Trade sources told FAS that China’s imports of grandparent generation birds increased 17 percent to 1.1 million sets in 2011, but the bulk of these imports arrived during the last quarter of 2011 when pork prices began to decline from record high levels.  When pork prices fell, concerns regarding oversupply, weak demand, and declining prices for broiler meats spurred some producers to slaughter birds prematurely, resulting in lower average slaughter weights.

With respect to broiler consumption, the report said that more abundant supplies of pork at lower prices caused FAS to revise its forecast for broiler consumption downward to 13.5 million tons, a decrease of 87,000 tons,  less than a 1 percent change.