(Photo: Negri led the talkings with the Chinese counterparts for the opening of the market)

Buenos Aires, May 5th. The outbreak of African swine fever in China is viewed as a key factor that could change de animal protein commerce in the world. Although a steady growth in the last fifteen years, Argentina is still a modest pork meat producer; during 2018 the country slaughtered 6.8 million head and produced 620K tons of meat. This output achieved to satisfy a local consumption of 14.8 kilograms per capita and to export 23K tons versus 45K tons of imports.

But now, China is changing the perspective of the future of the domestic pork chain. In the last visit to China, an official Argentine delegation agreed the protocols to export pork and, in fact, three slaughterhouses are already qualified to export. “All is ready to start the pork exports to China. Now, the ball is in the field of the private companies”, chairman of the Health and Quality Food and Agriculture National Service (Senasa), Ricardo Negri, told to eFarmNewsAr.com.

“The sanitary protocol is already approved, which permits export boneless meat, both frozen or chilled. We have three meat-packers enabled to export, and from this Monday the sanitary certificate granted by Senasa is recognized by China’s authorities”, Negri explained to this website.

Some media reported that it is expected that the first exports will be made during next July. There is a huge expectation about the opening of this market between the pork chain operators. For example, Guillermo Proietto, manager of ArgenPork, an exporter consortium, said the opening of the Chinese market will bring investment to the local pork chain.

“When a value-chain enters to the export business, it gains competitiviness. Although the pork chain not reach the self-supply (imports surpass exports) the experience says that when it develops the export leg, it attracts young proffesionals highly skilled, better technologies, new investments, new entrepreneurs; I think this represent a huge opportunity”, Negri added.

“Previous to take the Government in 2015 we were conviced that pork chain had a tremendous growth potential, because Argentina has the raw materials to transform them into meat, and an excellent sanitary condition”, he remarked.

But it happens that during the last years occurred a consolidation of the pork business. According to the Buenos Aires Pork Producers Association (Apropoba), only during 2018 five thousand small and medium pork farmers went out of the business due to the financial difficulties.

At the same, large pig farms are increasing their participation. Francisco Luna, chairman of the Apropoba, claims for new credit lines for the farmers. “Argentina should reach 10 million head slaughtered in the short term, and we need investment to achieve this goal”, he said.

Meanwhile, there are some concerns about Chinese demand. Argentina is a deficit country on pork meat supply. Then, if a foreign demand fuels the exports, local prices will tend to rise and Argentinians will must to pay more for pork.