African Swine Flu May Affect China Pork Supply For Chinese New Year

At least 13 countries intended to stop importing pork from Belgium after the deadly African Swine Fever outbreak was confirmed in the country. The European Union had also called for its member states to implement tougher strategies to contain the virus. (Photo: Pixabay)

African swine fever has affected the Chinese pork industry. This could not have happened at a more unfortunate time, mainly because the demand for pork is due to spike.

Pork production companies in China should now be gearing up to meet the rising demand for their products as Chinese New Year nears, but instead, they now face threats from a deadly and highly contagious virus hitting their outputs.

The virus is usually spread or passed through contaminated feed or exposure to other animals infected by such. Just this week, two new cases have been reported in the south. This is the first cases in that area. Other areas that have been contaminated already are on lockdown. An estimate of 70,000 pigs has also been culled to stop the spread of the deadly and infectious virus.

For the past three months, African swine fever has already affected and spread to 12 Chinese provinces, which form part an area considered home to over 50% of the nation's pig population. Alarming with this virus is that it has a near-100% fatality rate. As of now, there are also no vaccines around. Once infected, a pig can more or less die. 

Even though officials from the Ministry of Agriculture have been hard at work to contain the spread of the virus, more work seems necessary. On Wednesday, it said that it would ban the feeding of kitchen waste to pigs, after analyzing that this could be the common practice among the majority of the early cases. Even though it is still yet unclear how Beijing would monitor such practice and prevent them in actuality, the ministry is adamant that 62% of the first 21 outbreaks were linked to the method of feeding pings with kitchen waste and should be stopped, based on a statement published on its site. 

China, home to over 50% of the world's population of pigs, needs to contain this virus fast. Pork consumption has increased in tandem with the nation's significant economic rise, and demand is unlikely to slow down soon. China's meat consumption is made up of two-thirds pork. Pork is so essential that the national government even has a strategic pork reserve. 

If not contained, both consumers and pork suppliers are likely to take a huge hit. Aggravating this problem is the tariffs imposed on the US pork products, a byproduct of the US-China trade war. The war is also showing no sign of stopping soon. 

The virus can also last or survive in frozen pork products, for years. Japan recently reported that it made a discovery of contaminated pork sausage brought over from Beijing. 

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