《China warns of soaring pork prices as virus curbs output》 (REUTERS)
Chinese pork prices are set to jump 70 percent in the second half of the year, a senior official said on Wednesday, after data showed an outbreak of African swine fever cut the world’s largest hog herd by 10 percent in the first quarter.
China’s pork production fell 5 percent in the first three months of 2019 and much bigger declines are expected in coming quarters, analysts said, as the country struggles to contain the spread of the deadly disease.
The forecast comes as Washington and Beijing are trying to hammer out a deal to end a months-long trade war that could include China buying more U.S. pork to meet a growing supply deficit, sources told Reuters.
“Second quarter [production] will see a marked drop from the first quarter, and the third quarter could be even bigger,” said Feng Yonghui, chief analyst at industry website Soozhu.com.
The fall in pork output in the first quarter was muted by demand during China’s Lunar New Year festival in February, with farmers worried about weak pig prices rushing animals to market, Feng said.
But a large decline in the breeding herd means output of the country’s most popular meat will continue to fall sharply.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said last week that China’s sow herd dropped 21 percent in March from the same period a year earlier.
African swine fever – deadly in pigs but harmless for humans – has spread rapidly through China, which accounts for about half of global pork output, since the first outbreak was reported last August.
自从去年8月爆发第一次疫情以来，非洲猪瘟 – 在猪身上致命但对人类无害 – 已迅速蔓延到中国，占全球猪肉产量的一半左右。
Up to 200 million pigs could be culled or die from being infected by the disease this year, according to Rabobank, which estimated pork production could fall by 30 percent. Other analysts do not expect such a large impact.