New COVID-19 Regulations in China Has Slowed Meat Imports

Increased coronavirus testing of imported meat and poultry is having a big impact on product bound for China.

Since summer 2020, following outbreaks at wholesale food markets, China has been swab testing imported meat, often focusing on packaging. At first the tests only occurred at the ports, and on a sample basis. But as the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s Joel Haggard explains, China has now implemented new rules that all meat and poultry be tested again at inland cold storage locations and distribution centers before moving on to end users.

“Following more outbreaks among port and airport workers, China then mandated that all imported meat and poultry not only had to be COVID tested, but had to undergo a disinfection procedure also to be conducted at approved inland warehouses. China has also begun to layer on a new phone app based traceability system requiring any party handling imported meat and poultry to scan information about the product’s upstream and downstream movements,” according to Haggard.

How has all of this COVID testing and disinfection impacted the market? Haggard says the affects have really been more pronounced over the past couple of weeks.

“There have been some slowdowns when it comes to product clearance at ports, as products look to find approved warehouses where it can be disinfected.  And then there’s been a slowdown in the movement of products as wholesalers need to get their COVID tests and disinfection certificates, and we are hearing of some consumer pushback on imported meat and poultry,” says Haggard.

Haggard added these developments are coming at an inopportune time, since this is the peak meat purchasing and consumption season in China, leading up to the February 12th Lunar New Year.

Haggard says he’s confident these “hiccups” are only temporary.