China Pork Industry
Pigs are seen on the farm of pig farmer Zhang Haitao at a village in Changtu (Photo: Reuters / Ryan Woo)

Up to this day, China still continues to struggle with its pork supply as the industry is rampaged by the ongoing African swine fever epidemic. Now, Chinese tech giants are looking into applying their advanced systems and expertise to try and alleviate some of the pressures on the bruised industry.

For the past few months, national and local governments have been imposing various measures and policies to try and stabilize pork prices and bolster pig farming. However, these measures have done little to offset to the country's continually declining supply.

Tech giants such as NetEase, Alibaba, and JD.com have recently revealed plans to get into the pork industry to help alleviate the dwindling supply. Some of the companies have actually already gotten their foot into the business, with NetEase being the first one to do so.

NetEase had quietly been raising organic non-GMO black pigs in the late 2000s. The company's CEO Ding Lei famously served the pigs to his colleagues, which immediately became an online hit during that time. Through its agricultural subsidiary NetEase Weiyang, the company has been selling pork online since 2016. Its e-commerce brands Kaola and Yanxuan also included the pork products on their online stores, with an average price of 48 Yuan per 500 grams.

In March of this year, Alibaba's Aliyun cloud computing subsidiary announced plans to integrate its artificial intelligence systems into the pig farming industry. As of this month, the company had reportedly already invested millions in the project, which has a target of raising as much as 10 million pigs by 2020.

E-commerce giant JD.com also announced plans to set up a piggery business using advanced pig facial recognition technologies. The advanced system will reportedly be able to recognize each pig, while also monitoring them individually. Monitors can keep track of each pig's health, weight, and growth.

The systems implemented by JD and Alibaba are of course still in the development stage, which means that most of the pigs in their farms are not yet ready for slaughter. The companies are confident that their respective systems will be able to greatly reduce the risk of African swine fever infections. Additionally, the systems are expected to greatly reduce the cost for Chinese pig farms in the future.

China is currently the world's largest pork producer and consumer. The country is estimated to produce more than 50 percent of the global pork supply. In the last decade, China is estimated to have produced more than 650 million pigs, with around 50 million tons of them consumed domestically.