Chinese consumers face a fresh increase in meat prices and an uptick in food price inflation after Beijing suspended imports from a swath of overseas processing plants because of concerns that COVID-19 outbreaks in the plants risked importing the virus back into the country.
The country’s customs officials have also stepped up inspections of frozen food imports at ports, leading to backlogs of up to two weeks and a shortage in storage space, delaying the supply of food to Chinese cities.
The World Health Organization and various governments insist there is no evidence of coronavirus transmission via food or food packaging, but Chinese customs officials from several cities said there was a “good chance” that the virus could stay alive in a frozen container.
Since mid-June, Beijing has suspended imports from 14 pork, poultry and beef plants in countries including the US, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany and Canada, while another seven plants, including those in Argentina, UK and Italy, have voluntarily stopped shipments to China.
China bans imports from more Brazilian meat plants With two pig slaughter plants from BRF and JBS in Rio Grande do Sul, there are already six meat plants blocked to export meat to China amid COVID-19 concerns.
The General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) reported its decision to ban imports from two Brazilian meat plants that until 4 July were authorized to export pork to China.
China has suspended imports from two Brazilian pork plants owned by meatpackers JBS SA and BRF SA, the Chinese customs authority said, as it cracks down on meat shipments amid concerns about the new coronavirus.” Although the brief GACC report does not clarify the cause of the new ban, it is an open secret that these surprising measures are associated with the fact that Brazil currently suffers the second highest level of COVID-19 infections in the world, only surpassed by the US.
A total of six meat plants in Brazil have been blocked from exporting to China, a country whose government appears to be linking food as a potential transmitter of COVID-19, despite the fact that no medical entity supports such a hypothesis.
The US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration said that “efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission”.The increase in food inspections has also pushed up costs for importers, as the shortage of storage space means that many are paying about $57 per container per day to keep their imports on board ship for up to 10 days while they wait for test results.