and their attempts to overcome the previous ASF crisis? The outbreak of Covid-19 in China has had a severe impact on the Chinese meat market, but it will probably be temporary, according to Gira’s analysis. Demand fell as restaurants closed, since people eat more meat in restaurants. Wet markets that sell fresh pork to consumers were closed for the duration, striking another blow to the traditional pork value chain and boosting chilled pork in modern retail and e-commerce. Sea- ports clogged up as China’s domestic logistics froze, and that hampered imports for a time. However, it appears that China is bouncing back and a strong recovery is expected in the second half of the year. As far as ASF is concerned, in summary Brown concludes that ASF has caused a shortfall in pork supply which could not be met by the domestic industry, leading to skyrocketing prices. In 2020 the rebuilding process started, with high biosecurity

and improved technology and, as a consequence, a moderni- sation of the chilled chain. The high pork prices will create a strong demand for pork and all kinds of substitute meat from the rest of the world, which will rob meat from other markets worldwide. There will be some growth in the rest of the world, but that will be limited due to uncertainty about the duration of the China import bulge. Eventually, the Chinese pig industry will come back in a more modern and efficient form, which will be more productive. Last but not least, Brown does not expect China to reach the old peak of pork consumption in 2014 again, simply because consumers will retain a taste for other proteins once they have tried them.

* This article is an approved and updated summary of the Gira message shared at various events worldwide over the last few months.

China pushes private companies to invest abroad

The Chinese government is encouraging pig-producing compa- nies to invest in pig production, both in China as well as abroad. This has become clear from a recent government document.


China is already investing abroad. In 2013 the Chinese market leader WH Group (at the time known as Shuanghui/Shineway) took over US- based Smithfield, which was also active in Poland and Romania. As a result, Chinese pig producers are already working in the USA and Europe. Nevertheless, China would like to produce more pigs outside its country’s borders. It is particularly interested in countries having a stable trade relationship with China and in them being free from African Swine Fever (ASF). This pork from abroad is aimed to be sold in mainland China; this meat supply should be swift, without veterinary risks. The step – to start producing pork outside China for its own inhabitants – is born of ne- cessity, says Jeroen Jeuken, director of ani- mal feed company Agrifirm and responsible for China. He points to the fact that domes- tic pig production has halved. In China, Agri- firm has two factories, producing premixes and complete feed for young animals. Jeuken notices that China is starting to try to get pig production back to the pre-2018 lev- els, when ASF broke for the first time. That is difficult, as the country is still fighting the vi-

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

rus. Especially in northern China, there are still many wild boar keeping the virus circulating. Large integrations are taking the lead with the repopulation. These companies have sufficient amount of risk capital. They buy or rent pig houses from individual pig producers to produce pigs. These are farms with capacity of at least 10,000 sows. Real estate companies and insur- ance companies also invest in pig production, which – while risky – is very lucrative. Pigs can be sold for over € 5/kg live weight. Contrary to industrial production, however, pork production cannot be completely automated. It’s impossible to change a sow’s gestation pe- riod. That is mainly the reason why recovery of Chinese pork produc- tion will take years, Jeuken says – pretty much in line with Rabobank’s predictions. According to Rabobank, China’s pig industry will be back at pre-ASF levels, at about 55 million tonnes annually, in 2025. Rabobank wrote that 2020 and 2021 will see the beginning of rebuilding in China. Jeuken would agree with that prognosis. He ob- serves that now pig houses are being filled with F1 gilts from finisher pig production to produce piglets. The central government in Beijing also has a budget to stimulate farms to buy sows. In Jeuken’s expectation, Chi- nese pig production will start to show signs of recovery from mid-2020.

In the long run, the sun is shining for Chi- na’s pig industry. Picture taken at a pig production project in Liaoning province.


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