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China Aug pork imports jump 76% as disease decimates local supply - customs

BEIJING, Sept 23 (Reuters) - China's pork imports rose 76% in August from the same month a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, as the world's top consumer of the meat stocked up on supplies after a deadly disease decimated its pig herd.

China took in 162,935 tonnes of pork last month, data from the General Administration of Customs shows, up 76% from August 2018 but down from July's 182,227 tonnes. <CNC-PORK-IMP>

A year-long epidemic of deadly African swine fever has reduced the world's top pig herd by almost 40%, according to official data, pushing up meat prices to 41.9 yuan ($5.89) per kg ($2.67 per pound) and driving the country's food price index to its highest since January 2012.

China's pork imports for the first eight months of the year were 1.16 million tonnes, up 40.4% from a year earlier.

Beef imports reached 130,619 tonnes, up 32%, bringing volumes for the first eight months to 980,334 tonnes, a 54% jump from a year ago.

Imports of chicken in August rose 51% to 67,074 tonnes, with total volumes so far this year at 483,743 tonnes, a 48% rise.

Meat imports are forecast to rise further, with the commerce ministry saying higher shipments and the release of frozen pork reserves would help ensure supplies.

China's official Xinhua news agency said earlier this month that the country will buy more agricultural products from the United States including pork, waiving tariffs on the imports. The news report did not give further details.

($1 = 7.1129 yuan)

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Tom Hogue)