US pork exports to China continue to rise

Pork exports have skyrocketed compared to this time last year

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U.S. pork exports to China remain high even as American supermarkets limit the amount of meat customers can buy at one time.

The United States sent nearly 17,500 tons of pork to mainland China in the week ending on April 30 compared to less than 4,000 tons at the same time last year.

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In fact, U.S. pork exports to China have skyrocketed since the end of 2019 after much of China's pig population was destroyed by an African swine fever epidemic.

That number was expected to stay high after China agreed to buy billions of dollars of pork a year as part ofPresident Trump's phase one trade deal. Now, U.S.-China tensions caused by the coronavirus pandemic may throw off the agreement.

A sign at a Kroger store in Atlanta limits shoppers to two packages of pork on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told "Sunday Morning Futures" that "patient zero" in China was in mid-November and said China's actions will continue to have dramatic economic consequences for the United States.

"We know that China hid the virus from the world behind the shield of the World Health Organization," Navarro said.

Meanwhile, a bottleneck in pork processing caused by pandemic-related plant closures is forcing farmers to kill off their healthy livestock without sending it to the market. Officials have estimated that about 700,000 pigs throughout the United States can’t be processed each week and must be euthanized. Most of the hogs are being killed at farms, but up to 13,000 a day also may be euthanized at a pork plant in Worthington, Minn.

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China produces and consumes two-thirds of the world's pork, but its supplies plunged as authorities destroyed pigs and blocked shipments to contain an outbreak of African swine fever that was confirmed in August 2018. Chinese farmers have allowed herds to dwindle.