Substantial pig and pork processing project planned for China

By Mark Godfrey

- Last updated on GMT

The investment includes farms and processing facilities to kill 300,000 pigs by the end of next year
The investment includes farms and processing facilities to kill 300,000 pigs by the end of next year

Related tags Livestock Pork

Thai food conglomerate Charoen Pokphand (CP) has teamed with a Singaporean partner for a RMB4 billion pig farming and pork processing project in northern China as part of an ambitious Sino-Singaporean food production plan, which will see Chinese pigs shipped to Singapore.

According to Chinese government sources, CP has set up a joint venture firm with Singaporean partner Singbridge Co, a subsidiary of Singaporean government investment firm Temasek, under an initial RMB1.7 billion part of the plan. This includes farms and processing facilities to kill 300,000 pigs by the end of next year, with a third of those pigs being shipped to Singapore.

The CP-led pork scheme suggested some progress at last on the China Singapore Modern Agricultural Food Zone project, which was first mooted by the Chinese and Singaporean prime ministers back in 2008. The idea is that the project combines Singaporean know-how on food safety and traceability with Chinese pig and pork producing scale.

The hope is that the Chinese side will absorb Singaporean knowledge, which will benefit local food safety. Jilin city authorities have engaged a subsidiary of the Singaporean veterinary authority to oversee sanitary and food safety issues in the zone.

The Jilin zone has progressed slowly since its announcement in 2008. Singapore Food Industries had been slated to set up pork processing operations in the new zone, although it is not clear if it will still do so under a new project. Some have pointed to the enormous scale of the project – over 500 square kilometres spanning land between the cities of Changchun and Jilin – as unrealistic.

CP top brass in China (where the firm is known as Chia Tai or ‘Zheng Da’ in Mandarin), including vice-president Bai Shanlin and vice-chair Xie Yi, attended the signing, along with Singbridge executives, Chinese government officials and the Singaporean ambassador to China, Gallen Lo.

Northern China has become a hub for livestock breeding in recent years, with more populous and wealthy southern provinces tightening environmental regulations on large-scale livestock farming. Located near China’s main maize production belts in northern China, Jilin is China’s rust belt, having lost much of its outmoded heavy manufacturing industry.

Chinese industry analysts have pointed to the potential of a straight shot at exporting to Singapore, one of Asia’s wealthiest nations and a hub for trade into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Singapore is part. Also ASEAN-based, but one of the very first investors into China after the country’s opening up in the late 1970s, CP has prospered in China thanks to the connections of long-time company boss and ethnic Chinese Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman and CEO of CP. In recent years CP has significantly increased activity in northern China, with several poultry projects under way in the region.

The firm has pig, poultry, aquaculture and feed processing operations in China, where it also packages and retails food. Incorporated in 1974, Temasek is an investment company based in Singapore.

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