Last year, the world's largest hog producer was forced to look abroad to feed its growing appetite for pork. China imported nearly 2 million tons of pig meat in 2008, up from only 700,000 tons in 2007, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. This was the largest single-year importation of pork by one country and nearly doubled the record set by Japan in 2005.
A leading contributor was blue ear pig disease, a virus that spread through 25 of China's 33 provinces and regions in 2007--08. A sever ice storm and the 2008 earthquake in sichuan province also killed millions of pigs and led to the slaughter of many more due to feed shortages. Meanwhile, rising grain costs dissuaded many Chinese farmers from raising pigs.
Further constraints on grain and pork supplies are expected as meat diets become more popular. People in developing countries now eat 30 kilograms of meat per capita...