China's Pig Farms Battle New Surge in ASF


A surge in African swine fever (ASF) infections in China is set to reduce hog output later this year, farm managers and analysts said this week, pushing up prices in the world's top pork consumer as demand recovers.

The incurable disease has plagued China for years, with an initial wave during 2018 and 2019 killing millions of pigs and leading to a dramatic decline in meat output that roiled global markets.

Chinese farms have significantly improved hygiene and procedures since then to reduce the impact of the virus, but it still circulates constantly, often spiking in winter.

Infections this year began to surge relatively late in the season, around the Lunar New Year holiday in January, when millions of people travelled after China had relaxed its COVID curbs, said three managers at pig farming companies and analysts.

Chinese hog prices have hovered around 15 yuan ($2.18) per kilogramme since late last year, pressured by weak demand and excess supply.

Large losses last year encouraged many farmers to downsize herds in the winter, which has pushed up slaughter volumes.

Infected pigs sent to slaughter could also be weighing on the price, said Jim Long, chief executive of Canadian genetics company Genesus, which sells breeding pigs in China.