China's Pork Prices Could Rise By 70 Percent As Industry Crippled By Swine Fever

China Pork Industry
Pork for sale is seen at a supermarket in Beijing (Photo: Reuters)

Due to the continued outbreak of African swine fever in China, industry experts have predicted that pork prices around the country may eventually increase by as much as 70 percent in the second half of the year. The prediction is partly due to the fact that more than 10 percent of the country's hogs have been culled or have died due to the disease in the first quarter of the year alone.

Over the first quarter of this year, pork production in China has dropped by 5 percent. That number is expected to further increase in the coming months as the country's struggles to contain the spread of the virus.

According to industry analysts, the second quarter production forecasts predict a massive drop and the third quarter looks to be even worse.

The country's Lunar New Year festival back in February somewhat muted the effects of the epidemic as farmers rushed to get their animals to market.

Now, most of the breeding herds have thinned out, leaving a deficit that threatens to lower the output of the country's most popular meat. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs revealed last week that sow herds across the country have dropped by as much as 21 percent. There is also an estimated 200 million pigs that are expected to die or be intentionally killed due to the ongoing infectious disease.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that overall pork output in the first quarter fell by around 5.2 percent to about 14.63 million tons.

Meanwhile, overall hog counts have declined by around 10.1 percent, or around an estimated 375.25 million pigs. The decrease in supply has resulted in an equally rapid increase is price, which will reportedly reach record levels by the second quarter. The statistics agency also recorded a drop in China's overall meat about by about 2.8 percent in the first quarter. This included meats such as lamb, beef, and poultry.

In markets around China, pork prices are now 20 percent higher when compared to a year ago; costing around US$3.03 per kilo. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs constantly keeps track of prices around the country and had recorded the highest pork prices back in 2016, when a kilo of pork had cost US$4.03 on average.  If the current trend continues and if the disease is not immediately contained, a 70 percent jump in prices could result in a kilogram of pork costing more than US$5.68 by the end of the year.

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