CHINA’S poultrymeat sector will post positive growth this year despite the coronavirus pandemic – but it will not match expansion seen in recent years that was driven by African Swine Fever (ASF).

Analysts expect China’s pork production to recover to 80%-90% of pre-ASF levels by the end of 2021, which will mean that the poultry sector should return to more traditional growth patterns, according to a recent USDA Gain report.

See also: A guide to effective red mite treatment for poultry producers

In 2021 chicken meat production is forecast at 15.3 million metric tons, 3% up on the estimated total for 2020.

Last year the country’s poultry sector grew 18% as prices were driven up by ASF.

Coronavirus hit the market at the beginning of the year – both disrupting production and hampering demand, slowing expansion.

There have also been six outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza so far in 2020.

White-feather birds

White-feather broilers account for 50% of the chicken meat market, and this is expanding as larger companies invest in modern production.

Chinese companies have invested in white-feathered bird genetics to meet this growth. Imports of Grandparent stock were up 42% in 2019 when compared with a year earlier.

The country is also reportedly breeding its own white broiler.


Pork prices and coronavirus will both influence Chinese poultry consumption, which is forecast to grow 2%, to 15.7 MMT in 2021.

Last year, poultrymeat consumption grew 20% y-o-y as the demand for pork dropped.

The way shoppers buy meat is also changing. The traditional, yellow broilers were more commonly sold in live markets – many of which are disappearing.

A number never reopened after the avian influenza outbreaks in the 2016-2017 season, while Chinese authorities have closed many wet markets down and banned live bird sales because of COVID-19.

“Even as the immediate COVID-19 outbreak is controlled in China, more consumers will tend to buy chilled chicken meat at supermarkets or modernized wet markets,” says the report.