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National Hog Farmer is the source for hog production, management and market news
January 23, 2024
U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom Halstrom just completed a market visit to Hong Kong for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. He reports that Hong Kong’s foodservice sector, which was decimated by limitations on restaurant hours and traffic, as well as travel and tourism restrictions, is achieving a gradual recovery but still has much room for further improvement.
"It was encouraging to see a rebound. It's definitely started. The business is not back to normal yet, but you can see some definite improvements on the food service side, especially on U.S. beef products," says Halstrom. "A lot of people think Hong Kong and China are the same. They're two different markets and Hong Kong is a legitimate market in and of itself. We have data through 11 months, we'll have December here in a few weeks, but we're going to be over $400 million in U.S. beef exported to Hong Kong. So a significant market, a significant value-added market with a lot of high-end products like U.S. Wagyu cuts going in there as well.
"Keep in mind that the emergency declaration on COVID was only lifted a little over a year ago in Hong Kong. So they're not three years removed, or two and a half years removed like we are in the U.S. So, while it's still a very muted consumer in terms of confidence, the staff on the ground there, they're definitely optimistic. We do think that there's some tail winds coming on increased food service demand, hopefully later this year."
Until recently, Hong Kong had only a handful of African swine fever cases, but Halstrom says a persistent series of recent outbreaks could heighten the need for imported pork.
"Hong Kong is a relatively big market for pork as well. And the significant development there is that they've been really struggling - the local industry in Hong Kong with African swine fever," Halstrom says. "So it's a situation where within the last two months we've seen significant culling in a relatively small herd in Hong Kong. So this definitely could provide some short-term opportunity for U.S. exporters on the pork side as well."
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