CHICAGO (Reuters) – China’s hog herd fell by half in the first eight months of 2019 due to a devastating outbreak of African swine fever and will likely shrink by 55% by the end of the year, analysts at Rabobank said on Wednesday.
The pace of herd losses will likely slow in the coming months due to reduced farm numbers and Chinese government measures to control the pig disease in the world’s largest pork consumer, according to a report by Rabobank. However, the bank said relatively unstable market conditions will likely persist for the next three to five years.
Though not harmful to humans, African swine fever is deadly to hogs, with no vaccine available. It surfaced for the first time in Asia more than a year ago, in China, and has now spread to over 50 countries, according to the World Organization of Animal Health – including those that account for 75% of global pork production.
Rabobank said in the report it expects China’s pork production to fall by 10% to 15% in 2020, on top of a 25% drop in 2019.
China’s total consumption of animal feed such as soy will drop by 17% in 2019 due to the decline in hogs, according to Rabobank. But feed consumption will rebound by 8% in 2020 as hog herds are rebuilt and farmers produce other proteins like chicken, the bank said.
In Vietnam, the world’s sixth-largest pork producer, 25% of the country’s total pig herd could be lost to African swine fever by year’s end, according to Rabobank. Since February, 18% of pigs have died, the bank said.
Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by P.J. Huffstutter and Matthew Lewis