BEIJING (Reuters) - China's pork imports in November surged more than 150% from a year ago to 229,707 tonnes, the highest since at least 2016, as the world's top consumer of the meat faces a severe domestic supply shortage after disease decimated its hog herd.
The figures were also up 30% from the previous month's 177,426 tonnes, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday, as wholesalers stocked up on supplies ahead of China's Spring Festival Holiday.
Pork imports <CNC-PORK-IMP> for the first 11 months of the year stood at 1.733 million tonnes, up 58% from a year earlier. The data is for muscle cuts and does not include offal and other non-muscle parts known as 'variety meats'.
An outbreak of African swine fever that started in August last year has nearly halved China's pig herd, according to official data, sending pork prices soaring to record levels.
November's pork imports were the highest since January 2016 when records on Eikon started.
As well as initiating a series of measures to boost pig production, China has opened up its market to new sources of meat to plug the huge supply gap.
Imports of chicken have jumped, with November arrivals at 77,895 tonnes, up 70.9% from a year ago.
Meanwhile imports of beef, more expensive but increasingly popular with China's growing middle class, have also expanded. November shipments of 186,984 tonnes were up 79.3% from a year earlier. <CNC-BEEF-IMP>.
For the first 11 months of the year, beef imports were 1.47 million tonnes, a jump of 57.3% from a year ago, according to customs data.
(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Shivani Singh; editing by Richard Pullin)