Half of China’s pig herd to be wiped out by 2020: Rabobank

29 Jul 2019 | Rei Geyssens

China’s pork herd is expected to be halved by the end of 2019 as fresh outbreaks continue to be reported, with the government failing to get a grip on the rapidly-spreading deadly pig disease, Dutch lender Rabobank said.

China’s current pig herd is already estimated to be 40% smaller than last year’s, with the pace of the decline set to ease during the second half of the year “due to the large slaughter in the first half of 2019,” the bank said in its Pork Quarterly Q3 update.

The Dutch lender expects a further 10% to 15% cut in China’s herd size and pork production in 2020.

The disease has been rapidly spreading around Asia, with China’s neighbouring countries on high alert as it spreads further across Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and more recently North Korea.

“Given its rapid progression, we suspect all Asian pork herds are at risk of ASF within the year. We expect Vietnam’s pork production to drop by 15% to 20% year-on-year in 2019.” the bank said.

Rabobank added that it expects “disease pressures” to affect global animal production in the next half-decade, with Chinese pork production expected to take up to five years to recover to levels prior to the outbreak.

“Challenges of restocking include lack of solutions to disease prevention, lack of capital, higher investment requirements, and other long-term issues, such as limited land access and strict environmental standards” will all lead to a long recovery process, the bank said.

Yet pig producers in exporting countries are not increasing their production in response to China’s protein deficit, except for the US where there has been significant growth, as producers “remain cautious and would rather observe than take concrete steps to expand”.

Almost all large pork exporters have seen volumes shipped to China increase this year apart from the US, amid high import tariffs placed on American meat as part of the ongoing trade dispute.