Chinese pig herd shows strong signs of recovery

Production in China is expected to grow by 9% in 2021 as sow herds are rebuilt following the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country, according to AHDB analyst Duncan Wyatt.

The Chinese Government is reportedly aiming to produce 95% of its pig meat demand domestically, through rapid rebuilding of its pig herd following the ASF epidemic which decimated the country’s pig population, causing it to rely on imported pig meat.

“How rapid remains to be seen, and such growth would of course be on an unprecedented scale. But, according to official data, the herd has already been growing at an impressive rate,” Mr Wyatt commented.

Data from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Areas has indicated that the reproductive sow herd sat at approximately 26 million head in October, up from approximately 19 million a year ago. The same data indicated that the sow herd was over 30 million when ASF was discovered, having been in decline for some years.

The picture of growth is partly supported by trade data too, as China imported 29.5m tonnes of soya beans in the third quarter of 2020, 12% more than at the same point in 2019.

Mr Wyatt added, however, that is not simply a question of sow numbers: “China had already been moving away from “backyard” pig farming before the ASF outbreak, and the management of the disease will ultimately accelerate this progress. Improvements in supply chain logistics are also reported to be taking place. Pre-ASF sow numbers may not be needed to produce pre-ASF amounts of pig meat.”

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