Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Swine fever sends Chinese pork prices, imports soaring

Swine fever sends Chinese pork prices, imports soaring

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
China’s pork industry has been left reeling from African swine fever, which has devastated its pig herd, sent pork prices soaring and forced the country to increase imports to satisfy demand – but analysts warn worse is yet to come. AFP

Swine fever sends Chinese pork prices, imports soaring

Pork prices have been sent soaring and herds devastated as African swine fever tears through China’s massive pig-farming industry, forcing the country to ramp up imports to satisfy demand – but analysts warn worse is yet to come.

More than 1.1 million pigs have been killed or culled so far as authorities scramble to contain a virus that has spread to neighbouring countries since the first cases emerged in August last year and for which there is no vaccine.

But the figure is widely believed to be much higher, as official data show China’s pig herd totalled 347.6 million in the first half of this year, down 60 million from the same period last year. Pork prices soared by a fifth last month alone.

“The worst is yet to come,” said Jan-Peter van Ferneij, who monitors foreign markets at the French Pork Institute.

“For now it’s the numbers [of pigs] that are falling. Then it will be production . . . and consumption will fall,” he said.

But swine fever does not affect humans – butchers have been seeking to reassure consumers that their meat is safe in the country that produces and eats more pork than anywhere else in the world.

“Look at this blue stamp,” said a seller at the Sanyuanli market in Beijing, pointing to the seal from health authorities showing that the pork is safe.

“Here’s the certificate that goes with it,” she said.

Standing in front of pork chops and ribs, Feng Shuyue recalled that people were “scared” of buying the meat last year, when the epidemic spread across the country.

“Today people are not afraid at all . . . because the [health] controls are very strict,” Feng said.

To meet demand, Beijing has increased pork imports, with shipments from the EU rising 37 per cent between January and April, according to European Commission figures.

Brazil has also become a big source of imports.

China is only importing frozen pork and the meat is going to larger cities, said van Ferneij.

Prices, meanwhile, could go up as much as 40 per cent in the next six months, according to a note by Nomura bank.

Authorities have sought to reassure the public.

Earlier this month, agriculture officials said production was “slowly recovering”, with 44 new incidences of fever detected over the past seven months, compared with 99 from August to December last year.

But the malady is far from over. Another outbreak was reported on Wednesday in southwest Sichuan province, with 21 pigs infected in a farm of 102 pigs.

An April report by Dutch financial group Rabobank said African swine fever was now affecting up to 200 million pigs, and the expected 30 per cent loss in pork production was almost a third larger than the annual US pork production.

Transporting animals across China has helped to spread the virus.

If trucks are not systematically disinfected, animals will come into contact with the disease as soon as they are transported, van Ferneij said.

Preventing the proliferation of the virus is complicated because there are many small, family-run pig herds in China.

African swine fever is particularly hurting these smaller operators, said Wang Xiaoying, a professor at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Industrial producers are faring better “thanks to strict preventive measures”, Wang said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • PM orders immediate action against ‘sexy’ live streamers

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered immediate action against women who live stream their sales pitches on Facebook wearing revealing clothing. The prime minister said the practice erodes traditional Cambodian values and disgraces women. Hun Sen gave the order to officials attending the Cambodian

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency