An iconic shot by now, of the multi-storey pig farms in Gui- you province. Chinese pig companies are now being en- couraged to also invest in projects abroad.

Figure 1 - Chinese pig production to fall drastically. The dynamics of production losses are complex and vary.

Mortality + cullings

Anticipated slaughterings

Breeding herd losses

 periods

Farm structure change

Transport restrictions

Chinese pork consumption Now what will all these developments mean for average per capita pork consumption in China? Brown says that before ASF, pork accounted for around 35% of Chinese protein con- sumption, but it’s been in slow retreat since 2014, with main- ly poultry and fish taking its place. The supply shock will most likely cause a demand shock as well, not in the least because prices for pork shot up at the end of 2019.

Chinese pork production Zooming out, the ASF crisis comes on top of an ongoing modernisation trend, as the pork sector moves away from backyard farms towards more industrialised types of farms. Quoting data from the China Animal Husbandry Handbook, Brown says that in 2003, about 70% of China’s pig production came from farms that produced 1–49 animals per year – and only 3% at the other end of the spectrum, on farms produc- ing 10,000 head or more. By 2022, on the other hand, the pre-ASF estimates were that about 42% of all pig production would come from farms larg- er than 10,000 head – and the backyard farm category (under 50 head) would have been reduced to constituting only 3% of the total. That development, Brown says, is simply catalysed by ASF. Es- timating that at least 70% of pig production is compromised, he says that many small growers will simply abandon pig farming. He adds, “ASF will boost the modern sector and wipe out farms that cannot afford good biosecurity. Record pig prices encourage major investments in large, modern farms.” To that, he adds that slaughtering will be moved closer to new farming regions.

    

 


 

Meat imports into China In terms of meat imports, the effects of ASF were already be- ing felt in the first half of 2019, Brown says. Beef and poultry imports, especially, were rising. From May 2019, pork imports also started rising – at the time a year-on-year growth of 63% was observed. That trend, he says, continued for the second half of the year, with pork performing a lot stronger. The Chi- nese have eased tariff and other restrictions on pork imports, especially from the US and Canada, in order to expand their sources of supply. Even before the ASF crisis, Brown continues, China had been the world’s largest pork importer for a few years, having over- taken Japan. The potential for pork imports could grow from 1.2 million tonnes per annum in 2018 to be 3.4 million tonnes in 2020, he says – constituting a growth of 2.2 million tonnes per year. That volume could come mostly from Spain and Bra- zil, he says, and potentially the United States. Interestingly, he adds: “The majority of the supply gain comes from robbing/ diverting pork from domestic markets and from other export markets, not from production growth.” Chinese pig meat prices went up strongly during 2019, Brown says, and that occurred in combination with increased import volumes. So there is a strong “buy” signal to the rest of the world (see also Box).

Covid-19 and conclusions It is early days yet, but what are Gira’s expectations of the ef- fect of Covid-19 on the global pig and agriculture business

▶PIG PROGRESS | Volume 36, No. 3, 2020 7

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