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Swine Fever Reshaping Global Pork Industry

Podcasts / Newsline October 22, 2019

Credit: benjgibbs // CC BY 2.0 

The African swine fever outbreak in China means the nation must import more pork to keep up with demand. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements: The catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever in China presents market opportunity for the U.S., according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. AFBF economist Michael Nepveux expects a significant decline in China’s hog herd this year.

Nepveux: We always have to mention, when it comes to talking about China, that it really is a black hole of reliable data. So that makes it very difficult to pin down a true, accurate number,  but we’ve seen some pretty big estimates in terms of depopulation of the herd. Most estimates at this point would say it’s at least 30 percent of the herd or more. I’ve seen some estimates as much as a 50 percent year-over-year decline in the hog herd in China by the end of 2019.

Clements: Prior to ASF, China produced and consumed half the world’s pork. Nepveux says ASF could drop global pork supply by 25 percent, mostly impacting China and opening a trade opportunity.

Nepveux: Prices of pork in China have been skyrocketing. You’ve seen other substitutes increasing, such as poultry. The U.S. industry is also gearing up to export. JBS and Tyson have both moved to a ractopamine-free pork supply for next year to capture some of that export market share that’s going to China because they’re going to need to import a lot of animal protein, not just pork, and the U.S. doesn’t want to miss out on that.

Clements: However, Nepveux warns it’s critical to keep ASF from spreading to the United States.

Nepveux: If ASF were to come to the U.S., it’d shut down exports, and that would be 23 percent of the pork being dumped back on the domestic market, essentially. So that’s something that keeps our hog producers up at night.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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