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Disease to cut China pig meat output by at least 10 percent: FAO

LONDON (Reuters) – An African Swine Fever outbreak is expected to cut China’s pig meat output by at least 10 percent in 2019 and present opportunities for producers elsewhere, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A vendor cuts up a piece of pork in her small stall at a food market in central Beijing June 25, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

The shrinking of the world’s largest hog herd will have a noticeable impact on meat and feed markets worldwide, with more than one million pigs culled in China so far in an effort to halt the contagion, the FAO said in a food outlook report.

“With the sharp decline in pig inventories, the exponentially rising (feed) import trend , especially of soybeans over the past two decades could come to an abrupt halt,” the FAO report said.

The disease has also spread to neighboring countries, notably Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia and Cambodia.

“The unfortunate prospect facing Asian producers could bring opportunities for (pork) producers elsewhere, particularly those in Europe, the U.S. and Brazil,” the FAO said.

“It is a rare combination of events that presents pig producers with higher prices, higher export volumes and lower feed prices. But the data available for the spread of ASF so far would indicate that in Europe and the Americas pig producers may be about to enjoy precisely this situation.”

Global pig meat production is forecast at 115.6 million tonnes in 2019, a decline of 4.0 percent from the prior year with a contraction in China outweighing expansions especially in the U.S., Brazil and Russia.

EU pig meat production is forecast to remain stable at about 24 million tonnes with the continued spread of ASF in countries such as Romania, Hungary and Poland dimming the outlook.

The U.S. is forecast to raise production by 3.8 percent to nearly 12 million tonnes this year, relying on its largest pig herd inventory since 2009.

Poultry exporters worldwide are also expected to benefit.

“As China may make efforts to supply consumers who normally purchase pig meat with alternative proteins, it will have to resort to other meats, notably poultry meat,” the FAO said, noting the largest poultry producers were Brazil, the U.S. and Thailand as well as some EU countries.

Reporting by Nigel Hunt; Editing by Alexander Smith

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