Export sales of American pork soared earlier this month as buyers stocked up in anticipation of a widening protein gap created by the spread of a pig-killing disease in Asia.
“They’re simply front-running the Chinese with everyone becoming fully aware of the demand wave about to hit,” Dennis Smith, senior account executive at Archer Financial Services, said.
Export sales jumped to 351,000 metric tons two weeks ago as Mexico and China each snapped up the biggest weekly hauls in USDA data going back to 2013.
China’s weekly purchases of 152,600 tons tops the previous record of 142,200 tons from the week before.
China continues an aggressive meat-import program as African swine fever devastates herds.
China has also pledged to boost imports of American agriculture goods such as pork and soybeans amid thawing tensions in the U.S.-China trade war. That as the world’s biggest pork producer sees domestic output plunge the most since at least 2009.
Mexico, typically the top buyer of U.S. pork, bought 132,400 tons for the week, almost double the previous record set in mid-2014. Japan’s purchases also surged.