The average wholesale price of pork in China in the last week of January was down 15.3% from the same period in 2018, according to the latest government figures, as efforts to contain an outbreak of African Swine Fever have impacted on the Chinese pork industry.
The South China Morning Post reported that to try to contain the disease, Beijing has ordered more than 950,000 pigs be destroyed.
Rabobank senior analyst Chenjun Pan said: “That is a relatively small amount of the total number of pigs. What has depressed prices, experts say, is that farmers rushed their herds to market early. That led to a glut on the market, despite the extra demand during the holiday season.
“Pork production expansion and replenishment are expected to markedly slow due to great concerns over biosecurity measures.
“While pork supply is believed to be sufficient in the first quarter, the big supply issue will arise later in the year, with pork imports expected to increase substantially due to local supply shortages.”
In a research report, Ms Pan said that pork production in China could drop by as much as 20% in 2019. The sow herd has declined by about 15% across the country, she said. About 30% of medium-sized farms in the north and northeast have liquidated sows due to financial stress as prices have dropped, she estimated.