A surge in African Swine Fever (ASF) infections in China will reduce hog output later this year, news agency Reuters reported. Pork prices in China are likely to increase.
The viral disease appeared in China in 2018. An initial wave killed millions of pigs, leading to a substantial decline in meat output. Despite improvements in hygiene and procedures since then, the ASF virus still circulates. Just like in Spain between 1950 and 1990, the virus appears to come in waves.
Reuters wrote that ASF infections appear to have surged around the Chinese New Year holiday in January. Many people travelled again after the relaxation of China’s Covid-19 regulations. Especially the north of China (Shandong and Hebei provinces) are reportedly infected.
On the website of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), however, no further outbreaks of ASF virus have been officially reported since June 2022. The fact that China chooses not to report outbreaks makes it difficult to get a real picture of the extent of the infections.
Chinese hog prices have been at a level of RMB15/kg (US$ 2.18) since late last year, pressured by weak demand and excess supply.
Large losses last year encouraged many farmers to downsize herds in the winter, which has pushed up slaughter volumes, Reuters wrote. It continued to say that the disease outbreaks, as well as the prior herd reductions, will lead to fewer hogs reaching the market when demand improves in the 2nd half of the year.
The news agency quoted Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank, saying: “It is serious in some provinces but not across the country.” She estimated that ASF could impact “around 10%” of production.