China to close down small slaughterhouses to control African swine fever

China's agriculture ministry announced today (5 November) that it will reduce the number of small-scale slaughterhouses to better prevent and control African swine fever.


The Pig Site

5 November 2019 


There are too many small slaughterhouses in some places in China, equipped with old facilities and backward production techniques, and checks on the pork quality are not done properly, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement on its website.


The ministry will start reviewing slaughterhouses in some regions from mid-November and shut down those that do not meet the requirements, the ministry said.


China's top pig producers only recently posted their highest ever profits in the three months to September, as soaring hog prices more than compensated for losses resulting from African swine fever, reports Reuters.


The huge profits underline how the fatal pig disease, which has killed millions of hogs across Asia and left many small farmers bankrupt, has proved a major opportunity for the leading producers in the world's largest but highly fragmented hog sector.


Wens Foodstuff Group Co Ltd, Muyuan Foods Co Ltd , and New Hope Liuhe all saw third-quarter profits more than double from the previous year's level.


Muyuan's net profit of 1.54 billion yuan ($218.88 million) was twice as high as its previous best quarter.


The sharp turnaround comes a year after the disease broke out in China and spread rapidly across the country.


The herd has shrunk by 41 percent year-on-year in September, pushing live hog prices to 30 yuan per kilogramme in some provinces.


For large producers, even if they lost some sows to the disease, prices are so high now that they are still earning much more than before.


"Upstream hog breeders suffered losses in the first quarter of 2019. However, prices started to rise due to tightened supply from the second quarter, which helped the breeders turn profitable," said Fitch Ratings in a note on Wednesday.


Hog margins averaged about 1,625 yuan per pig by the end of the third quarter.


"While production costs are basically the same, pig prices keep soaring. The growing spread is all profit," said Mao Yifan, analyst with Industrial Securities.


The companies are also gaining market share after price volatility earlier in the year pushed many smaller farmers out.


Wens, which produced 22 million pigs in 2018 and had a market share of 3.2 percent, had increased its share to 3.8 percent by the end of September, said Becky Han, associate director of APAC Corporates at Fitch Ratings.


It is targeting a 10 percent share of the market, producing about 70 million pigs, by 2027.


With hog margins now at...


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