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German Pork “Effectively Trapped in Europe” Due to African Swine Fever, as China Rebuilds Herds

November 4, 2020

Late last week, Bloomberg News reported that, “China is flying in record numbers of pigs to improve genetics and boost productivity while rapidly rebuilding the nation’s hog population after it was decimated by African swine fever.

“Some 15,346 live swine worth $32 million arrived by air in the first nine months of the year, customs data show. That’s an all-time high, according to Genesus Inc., an international genetics company. The value jumped from $3 million in all of 2019, $13 million in 2018 and $21 million in 2017, the customs data show.

China has also imported a record volume of meat this year to ease pork shortages.

The Bloomberg article noted that, “The hog population is recovering: the number of breeding sows rose 28% from a year earlier to 38 million by the end of September, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Many farms kept sows for breeding purposes, many of them originally used for meat and less productive, according to Lin Guofa, a senior analyst at Bric Agriculture Group.”

Also with respect to pork supply issues, Bloomberg writer Birgit Jennen reported on Saturday that, “Germany confirmed the first case of swine fever in the state of Saxony, signaling that the disease is spreading beyond its initial hotspot in Brandenburg.”

The Bloomberg article stated that, “A wild boar was first diagnosed with swine fever in Brandenburg on Sept. 10 and there are now 117 cases nationwide. The disease currently affects only wild boars, and no pigs have been infected, the ministry says.”

And in more recent news on the impacts African Swine Fever is having on pork supply and export variablesReuters writers Michael Hogan and Nigel Hunt reported recently that, “Germany’s meat processors are sending pork chops and bacon previously earmarked for Asia to supermarkets across the European Union after China, South Korea and Japan banned German imports due to an outbreak of African Swine Fever in wild boars.”

Germany’s meat has since been effectively trapped in Europe, displacing supplies from rival producers including Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands who continue to sell huge volumes to China, where millions of animals have been slaughtered.

The Reuters article added that, “Opportunities to sell cuts such as shoulder meat and hams that were originally destined for Asian markets have, however, opened up as rivals focus on satisfying strong demand particularly from China which has a huge appetite for pork.”

Meanwhile, in a separate issue regarding German pork production,  Bloomberg writers Megan Durisin and Brian Parkin reported last week that, “Germany warned that its farms could face a glut of more than 1 million pigs by year-end as coronavirus measures cause backlogs at slaughterhouses.

“German Pig Backlog May Cram 1.2 Million Extra Hogs on Farms,” by Megan Durisin and Brian Parkin. Bloomberg News (October 28, 2020).

“The nation’s abattoirs have been operating at reduced capacity for much of the year because of Covid-19 outbreaks and workplace precautions. That has slowed pig sales in Europe’s top pork producer, and the current  surplus of about 400,000 slaughter-ready pigs could triple by the end of the year.”

Source: Keith Good, Farm Policy News