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China’s wonder: A rapid recovery of the pig sector

China’s pork industry is like a phoenix rising from the ashes. To boost pork production in China after the devastating African Swine Fever epidemic, the Chinese government has announced extra stimulus measures.

In an echo of earlier projections, also the bank ABN Amro reported recently that a little miracle is currently taking place in Chinese pig farming. The pig sector in China is recovering faster from the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks than anyone could have previously expected.

Another shipment of healthy breeding animals has made it safely to China. - Photo: Nucléus
Another shipment of healthy breeding animals has made it safely to China. - Photo: Nucléus

Late November, the Chinese Minstry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) stepped up the process even further. Local governments were instructed to provide financial incentives for pig farms to get production up to standard, ABN Amro stated. Because of shortages, pork prices have risen sharply, leading to inflation and impacting the lives of many Chinese families. The authorities aim to avoid that.

Scarcity and pork price increases

The ASF outbreak in August 2018 caused the Chinese pig herd to shrink sharply, by at least 40% and possibly even halving it. This led to scarcity and sharp price increases. According to the bank, the price of pork at the beginning of this year was once as high as at the beginning of 2019. Due to the enormous supply shortage, China has had to import a lot of pork.

It was long thought that recovery of the swine industry would last until 2024. The most recent Chinese figures, however, indicate that the recovery is accelerating. In the 3rd quarter of this year, Chinese pork production was 18% higher than last year. That production increase also continued in October, the figures show. Breeding organisations also recently announced that the demand for breeding pigs is high in China, reaffirming the figures on the production increase.

Rabobank: Rebuilding of China’s pig industry is key

In November, Rabobank projected a leading role for pork in the global animal protein market as well. In its Global Animal Protein Outlook 2021, the bank expressed its expectations that in 2021, the country will bring at least 10%, but possibly 15% more pork on the market.

The November Business Update confirmed that breeding animals are heading for China

More than € 25 billion has been invested in Chinese pig farming this year, Rabobank estimated. The size of the Chinese pig herd will thus grow in 2021 to 80% of the number of animals before ASF struck in August 2018. Before ASF, China accounted for half of the global pork production.