Spain is officially the leading exporter of pork to China. Spanish exports of this meat increased 10-fold between 2015 and the first 11 months of 2020 and those exports include everything from pig meat to offal, like tongue and liver. The real boost started in 2018 due to an outbreak of the African swine fever virus, which notably reduced the number of pigs in China by 27% between 2018 and 2019, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The decline in domestic production drove the significant increase in imports. It’s worth nothing that China is also the world’s leading pork consumer.
In the first 11 months of 2020, an impressive 24% of pork exports to China were from Spain, placing it in first position. It’s followed at a distance by the US (16%), Brazil (15%), Germany (15%) and Denmark (10%), according to alde.es. Spain’s share of the market is expected to increase over time. Pork (including Ibérico ham) is now Spain’s most important agricultural export, ahead of olive oil and citrus fruits.
Industry experts link Spain’s position with the competitiveness of its companies, their ability to increase production, the flexibility to offer products that Chinese consumers want, and the fact that 57 companies have authorization to export pork to China.
China’s has experienced intense growth over the last few decades, which has helped it position itself as the second-largest economy in the world. Spanish companies, as part of their strategic plans and internationalization efforts, are constantly looking to expand their presence there.