In it’s ongoing quest to be more self-sufficient in pork production, a Chinese pork processor is stepping up. Meat and food processor Zhongpin has begun expanding and upgrading its pork plant in the city of Anyang.

The company is spending $6.3 million (U.S.) to improve the facility's pre-cooling room and equipment to further expand the plant's production capacity for chilled pork. Annual capacity will increase by 35 percent, to 85,000 metric tons from 63,000 metric tons, company officials report. Once completed, chilled pork will account for 70 percent of the plant's capacity, up from the current 60 percent.

The four-month overhaul is expected to be finished by July. The Anyang plant began operations in September 2007, and reached an average annual capacity of nearly 82 percent in 2009.

"Our presence in Anyang and the north China market has successfully increased the demand for our products, especially for chilled pork," Xianfu Zhu, Zhongpin’s chairman and chief executive officer, said. "The improvements we are making this year should help meet the rapidly growing demand for high-quality chilled pork that we expect in north China over the next several years."

Zhongpin is taking advantage of increased demand created by the decline of small pork-processing plants that cannot comply with new, stricter sanitary standards, say company officials.