There is not enough pork in “the whole world combined” to fill the potential supply shortfall that will hit China later this year, market analysts have warned.
Pork exporting countries around the world are scrambling to fill the supply gap in China as an African Swine Fever epidemic sweeps across the country.
The South China Morning Post reported that financial services firm Rabobank estimates that China could lose up to 200 million pigs to disease or slaughter during the epidemic, almost three times the pig population in the United States.
China is the world’s biggest pork producer, with roughly 433 million pigs, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). And the loss of half of the country’s pigs could push prices up by as much as a 70%, a Chinese agriculture ministry official said last week.
Rabobank senior analyst Chenjun Pan said pork production would fall in China this year and next.
“A lot of herd will disappear due to infection and liquidation,” Ms Pan said. “There will be a great shortage. We don’t think any country in the world – or the whole world combined – could cover this supply gap. Even after increasing the imports, there remains a supply shortage.”
China is estimated to have about 200,000 tonnes of pork in its reserves, but this is just a fraction of the supply needed to satisfy demand in the world’s biggest pork market. That shortfall is reflected in the number of Chinese buyers turning to the United States for pork, despite heavy trade war duties.