ASF China: Government anticipates for Lunar New Year


Vincent ter Beek, Pig Progress

Jan 13, 2020


As Chinese New Year is around the corner (January 25), the country faces many challenges with African Swine Fever being far from under control.


Like every year, millions of Chinese will travel to their home town, creating a lot of additional movement of people and potentially infected pigmeat as well. On top that, during Lunar New Year, demand to pork is , traditionally, very high. A situation that is complex given that the domestic pig inventory is much lower than normal due to African Swine Fever.


The situation is also worrying the Chinese government, as many try to profit from high prices. News agency Bloomberg quoted vice agriculture minister Yu Kangzhen, who said China’s sow herd rose 2.2% in December in comparison to November, adding that the number of pigs sent for slaughter rose by 14.1% in comparison to one month earlier.


Yu called the ASF situation in China ’still severe and complex’. He added: “The risk of outbreaks will rise with the rapid increase in the number of live pigs.” As winter and spring are the high season for pig diseases, he said: “The risk of spreading the virus will rise greatly.”


Releasing the pressure on the pork market


Late December 2019, retail pork prices in China were at almost RMB51 (€ 6.62) – this was twice the amount of December 2018. To ease the pressure on the market, the Chinese authorities are releasing more frozen pork from their reserves, Reuters reported.


One other way to somewhat meet the Chinese need for pork is by importing more from the USA. News agency Reuters reported that US pork exports rose to record levels late 2019. China has increased pork imports to record levels after ASF devastated the herd. US pork exports to China and Hong Kong were up 49% in value at $ 1.18 billion from January to November 2019. The shipments were above full-year 2018 exports of $ 852.5 million and topped a prior full-year record of $ 1.08 billion in 2017.


Pork shortage expected to continue


Nevertheless, China’s pork shortage is expected to continue into 2020, a recent analysis by the German Union for Pig Producers (ISN). In a newsletter, the ISN writes that China will import 10 million tonnes of pork in 2020. That will mean that there will still be a deficit of roughly 12 million tonnes.


Prior to the crisis, annually China produced 54 million tonnes of pork. It is expected that this year, the amount will be 35 million.


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