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ASF China: Sow herd shrunk by 22%; consumption falls

The Chinese authorities have reported that the sow herd in April 2019 fell by 22.3% in comparison to April 2018.

Nevertheless, prices of pork have not surged enormously. This is mostly due to 2 reasons – the first being that Chinese consumers have also purchased less pork. Press agency Reuters reported that Luo Xufang, the president of Wens’ pig industry division spoke of ‘a psychological effect’ of the news of ASF. In addition, frozen pork stocks are being sold now. Wens is one of China’s largest swine businesses.

ASF will accelerate move to poultry and meat replacers

The tendency of consumers moving away from pork was also noted by Alltech CEO, Mark Lyons, who spoke at the opening event of the company’s annual ONE conference, held 19-21 May 2019 in Lexington, KY, United States. He said that ASF will accelerate a shift from pork to poultrymeat and vegetarian alternatives.

Mark Lyons, CEO of Alltech, at the opening address of the company’s ONE Conference in Lexington, KY, United States. Photo: Alltech
Mark Lyons, CEO of Alltech, at the opening address of the company’s ONE Conference in Lexington, KY, United States. Photo: Alltech

Traditionally, poultrymeat does not have a good name in China, Mr Lyons said, but that image is changing with the younger generation. An additional advantage is that poultry meat production can be scaled up quicker than pork. Artificial meat is also growing, as more than 50% would not reject it, according to Mr Lyons. At the moment, development and production of meat replacers will still have to be scaled up, he added.

Mr Lyons said that he expects that pork and soy exports from the USA to China will be taken care of outside the current trade war. That, in his view, is in the interest of both countries.

New ASF outbreak updates from China

In the meantime, the Chinese authorities have confirmed a new outbreak of ASF. After a month of relative silence, first a case in a slaughterhouse in Guizhou province was reported last week.

This week, 2 more cases were added. On May 20, a case was reported by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) from the very north of Sichuan province, affecting a village of 429 animals, of which 111 had fallen ill. This outbreak has been confirmed by the OIE now.

Another outbreak, only to reported by MARA, was found in a backyard farm in the very north of Ningxia autonomous region, virtually on the border with Inner Mongolia. Here it was about a small farm with 40 animals of which 4 had fallen ill.

So far, China have reported 136 outbreaks to the OIE in total; the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization states that 1,026,000 animals have been culled in China to halt further spread. It is generally accepted that the total number of officially reported outbreaks in China is only a tiny fragment of the total number of pigs haven fallen victim to the virus in China.

With reporting by Robert Bodde, Boerderij