China's 2016 pork output fell 3.4 percent year-on-year to its lowest level since 2011, the National Statistics Bureau said on Friday, but production of beef hit a decade-high after low milk prices prompted farmers to slaughter more dairy cattle.
Pork output in the world's top producer and consumer of the meat fell to 52.99 million tons for the year after farmers shrank their herds following months of losses in previous years.
The drop in output pushed prices to record levels in early June, but also fueled a jump in cheaper imports during much of 2016.
While pork output fell, production of beef rose to its highest level in at least 10 years, rising 2.4 percent to 7.2 million tons. Dairy farmers slaughtered cows to benefit from strong demand for beef from China's growing middle class.
A drought in Inner Mongolia, one of the country's major beef production regions, also led to higher slaughter rates, said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.
"This indicates that output will drop this year," she said.
Lamb output jumped 4.2 percent to 4.59 million tons, the NBS data showed - also hitting its highest level in at least 10 years. The growth was driven in part by the drought, but also by oversupply that drove down prices, pushing farmers to slaughter more animals to boost volume sales.
Poultry production climbed 3.4 percent to 18.9 million tons.