China’s pork imports are set to double from last year to 2 million metric tons in 2019, a Rabobank analyst said on Thursday, as African swine fever (ASF) sweeps through China. Industry insiders say the 113 reported outbreaks in China are grossly underreported.
Chinese pork production is expected to fall by up to 20% in 2019, said Oscar Tjakra, a director of food and agribusiness research at Rabobank. China typically accounts for around half the world’s output of pork.
The U.S. agriculture department’s attache in Beijing has forecast pork production at 51.4 million metric tons this year, down 5% from 2018, with imports seen at 2 million metric tons, according to Reuters.
Pork production was on the increase for the first three quarters of 2018, said Zhu Zengyong, associate professor at the Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), but declined significantly in the fourth quarter after the disease began spreading rapidly.
Zengyong said the number of slaughtered hogs fell 1.2% in 2018 to 693.8 million head.
Not only has the disease totally disrupted the production plans of many major companies, Zhu said, but it also has halted some expansion.
In addition, China’s demand for pig feed is projected to drop 12% in the 2018-19 crop year that runs from October to September. Soymeal demand is expected to drop 5.5% during that same period, said Li Ning, general manager of commodity trader Living Water Trade (Shanghai) Co Ltd.
A consultant with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co Ltd said he sees pig feed consumption down 25% to 30% in 2019, and overall feed demand down from 12% to 15%.