China set for record-busting soybean demand as African swine fever wanes
Asim Anand, S&P Global Platts
03 Jun 2021
It's hard to believe that a couple of years back, China was reeling from the African swine fever epidemic, a disease that is 100% fatal to the pig population.
With ASF relentlessly ravaging China's pig herd, pork prices in the world's second largest economy nearly doubled year on year on tight supply, and food inflation spiked 17% on the year in December 2019.
Pork is a staple food in China and a large segment of population was not able to consume it as pigs became too expensive to purchase. The surging pork prices quickly spiraled into a national concern.
This situation now seems like a distant memory in 2021 as China has swiftly recovered from the epidemic, amid the government's strict quarantine measures and pig farming guidelines to control the disease. Consequently, pig numbers have increased remarkably.
According to China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, or MARA, country's live pig population is expected to cross 440 million heads in 2021, compared with 310 and 360 million heads in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
As China processes over 80% of imported soybeans into animal feed, the import demand forecast for the oilseed has shot up simultaneously with rising pig numbers. The world's largest soybeans importer is embarking on a record-setting shopping spree for the oilseed, amid the abating ASF.
According to S&P Global Platts Analytics, China is forecast to import all-time high levels of 100 and 104 million mt in 2020-21 and 2021-22 marketing years (October -September).
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