ASF may force China to import more pork

ABOVE: African swine fever virus particles at different stages of assembly. Picture: Pirbright Institute

CHINA will be forced to import more pork later this year because of African Swine Fever, an industry analyst says.

Rabobank analyst Justin Sherrard says China normally imports about 2.5 million tonnes of pork a year but as domestic production falls because of the ASF outbreak, it will likely need up to two million tonnes of added imports.

China is reported to have slaughtered more than a million pigs in its fight against ASF, but outside analysts say this number is way under-reported.

“We think it won’t be until around about May, maybe June of this year, that we really start to see a pickup in import requirements from China,” Sherrard says.

He expects China will continue to shift production north into larger, more modern facilities. He also predicts live animal transport restrictions will be eased later this year, easing some of the bottlenecks between production and processing.

Meantime, a new report from the American pork producer funded Swine Health Information Centre says ASF continues to spread in China, including the first outbreaks in Gansu and Ningxia provinces.

Centre executive director Paul Sundberg tells the Brownfield news service that China is underreporting the loss of pigs to ASF.

“The official report coming from China is that there haven’t been very many, if any, new outbreaks,” he says.

“The reports that we get on the ground from the veterinarians and others in China is that the virus continues to spread and continues to infect pigs.”

The US pork industry is boosting its efforts to reduce the risks from foreign animal disease by creating the National Swine Disease Council.

A rapid and effective response to disease outbreaks is the council’s top priority.

Centre executive director Paul Sundberg says the biggest risk the American industry faces is from any foreign animal disease entering the US.

“As an industry, we have decades of response experience and are well prepared for any number of swine-specific diseases, however a new or emerging disease can threaten animal health and welfare, as well as public health,” he says.

“While it is virtually impossible to prevent every disease from entering the US, the formation of this council will allow us to respond even more quickly thereby mitigating risk to herd health through fast action and response.”


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