UPDATE 1-China's March meat imports surpass 1 mln T – customs

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BEIJING, April 13 (Reuters) – China imported 1.02 million tonnes of meat in March, customs data showed on Tuesday, the highest monthly volume since at least January 2020, as the world’s biggest meat buyer continued to stock up to fill shortages at home.

Imports rose 11.4% from 919,000 tonnes in March 2020, the data showed, even after local pork prices fell sharply since the start of the year. China’s General Administration of Customs started publishing data for combined meat imports last year.

It comes as China’s output of pork, its staple meat, continues to be affected by the deadly hog disease African swine fever, which reached the country in 2018.

A severe wave of infections in the first quarter wiped out at least 20% of the breeding herd in northern China, industry sources and analysts have told Reuters, causing some farmers to panic and slaughter smaller pigs.

Domestic pork prices PORK-CN-TOT-D have plunged more than 40% since the beginning of the year.

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