African swine fever: Global pork ‘black swan’ event

China's pork production expected to be 30% lower after liquidation subsides.


Krissa Welshans, Feedstuffs 

Mar 11, 2019


Brett Stuart, president of Global AgriTrends, told the audience at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) meeting being held this week in Orlando, Fla., that African swine fever (ASF) is a global “black swan” event for the pork industry.


Currently, there are three pillars of the ASF problem, he noted.


“You have the world’s worst hog disease in the world’s largest hog herd — it’s high density, it’s not standardized and it all shares infrastructure, whether it be trucks, feed mills or slaughter plants — and you have a government that is completely lacking in transparency that is trying to cover it up. So, there’s not a lot of reporting on it,” Stuart said.


Additionally, the spread of the disease is vast and deep, he said -- “way, way, way worse than we are hearing.”


Stuart, who has been talking to as many as possible about the disease, said a big commercial hog operation privately told him they have lost 95% of their sows.


In January, the Chinese government reported that the country’s sow herd was down 15% (6 million head) from the prior year.


Farms are having to liquidate hogs, he said, adding, “I think conservatively, production in China will be down 30% once the liquidation stops.”


This mass liquidation is oversupplying the marketplace in China. “Pork is cheap,” he said.


Stuart added that some packing plants can’t kill hogs fast enough. “They’re killing pigs and throwing them in the freezers just to hold for once they get through this glut, because they all know what’s coming: shortages. There will be a massive shortage,” he explained.


This is all “fantastic” for the U.S. industry, so long as it can avoid ASF here, he said. 


“Your work’s not done,” he told the veterinarians in attendance.


In addition to China, the disease is currently present in the European Union, and Vietnam has reported 330 outbreaks in two-and-a-half weeks.


“It’s going to be in the Philippines, in Thailand, in Taiwan and Korea. Knock on wood that we can avoid it here,” Stuart said.


U.S. pork industry strategizing ...