Tag Archives: African Swine Fever

Hong Kong retiree Lee Wai-man loves pork fresh from the market but eats a lot less now that the price has jumped as China struggles with a deadly swine disease that has sent shockwaves through global meat markets.

China produces and consumes two-thirds of the world’s pork, but output is plunging as Beijing destroys herds and blocks shipments to stop African swine fever. Importers are filling the gap by buying pork as far away as Europe, boosting prices by up to 40% and causing shortages in other markets.

“I’m a fresh-pork lover, but it’s too expensive,” Lee, 87, said as she shopped at a Hong Kong market.

African swine fever doesn’t harm humans but is fatal and spreads quickly among pigs. It was first reported in August in China’s northeast. Since then, 1 million pigs have died and the disease has spread to 31 of China’s 34 provinces, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The outbreak’s scale is unprecedented, said Dirk Pfeiffer, a veterinary epidemiologist at the City University of Hong Kong.

“This is probably the most complex animal disease we have ever had to deal with,” Pfeiffer said.

China’s shortfall is likely to be so severe it will match Europe’s annual pork output and exceed U.S. production by 30%, industry researchers say.

“Everyone wants to import as much pork as possible,” said industry analyst Angela Zhang of IQC Insights. She said the trend is likely to accelerate as Chinese production falls.

That’s a boost for farmers in Germany, Spain and other countries with healthy pigs but hard on families in Southeast Asia and other poor markets that rely on pork for protein.

This year’s Chinese pork output might fall by up to 35%, according to Rabobank, a Dutch bank.

Global supplies will be “redirected to China,” the bank’s researchers said in an April report. It said the “unprecedented shift” in trade will likely cause shortages in other markets.

Grocery shoppers in Germany, Japan and other high-income markets grumble at paying more for kielbasa or tonkatsu, but short supplies are a serious concern in places such as Cambodia where pork is the only meat many families can afford.

Cambodia’s live hog price jumped 37% in the past six months, according to Srun Pov, president of the Cambodia Livestock Raiser Association. He said the country is buying about 30% of its daily needs of 500-600 tons from Thailand.

“Pork is important to us,” said Chhe Pich as a butcher weighed her purchase in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. “Even though the current price is a bit high, I have to buy it to serve my family.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects China’s pork imports to soar 41% this year over 2018 to 2.2 million tons. There’s no immediate end in sight as “evidence mounts that China will be unable to eradicate ASF in the near-term,” it said in a recent report.

The jolt to the global meat industry highlights China’s voracious demand for food for its 1.4 billion people, the potential for wider disruptions if its own production falters and its growing ability to outbid other customers for supplies.

African swine fever was first reported in August in China’s northeast. Since then, 1 million pigs have died and the disease has spread to 31 of China’s 34 provinces, according to the FAO.

Outbreaks have been reported in Cambodia, Mongolia, South Africa and Vietnam.

It’s been found among a small number of wild boars, which can spread the disease, in Russia and seven European countries.

Yang Wenguo, a farmer in Jiangjiaqiao, a village a two-hour drive northeast of Beijing, said he has lost 800 pigs. He now has a few dozen.

Most of Yang’s pens are empty. White pus drips from blood-shot eyes of one surviving hog. Foam drips from another’s mouth. Smaller pigs cough.

Yang dosed his animals with government-subsidized medications but they kept getting sick. The government hauls away dead animals and pays compensation of 1,000 yuan ($145) for a sow and 20 yuan ($3) for a piglet.

“You buy pigs, then they all die,” he said, walking on ground covered in disinfectant that looks like dirty snow. Only about 60 to 70 pigs remain from total herds of about 3,000 in Jiangjiaqiao.

Four other families in the village that raised pigs have stopped, Yang said, “No one can bear losing all the pigs they raise.” He’d like to sell his farm and find work in the city but no one wants to buy.

The USDA forecasts China’s total hog herd will shrink by 18% this year to 350 million animals, the lowest level since the 1980s.

In Hong Kong, authorities destroyed 6,000 pigs at one slaughterhouse after an animal imported from the mainland was found to be infected.

“More and more customers are switching from roast pork to other roast meat like chicken and duck,” said restaurant owner Siu Si-man.

Chinese authorities respond to outbreaks by temporarily banning shipments of pigs from any province where a case is reported.

That has caused retail prices to spike in big cities cut off from supplies. Prices paid to farmers have collapsed in areas with a surplus of pigs they can’t export.

A half-hour drive from Yang’s farm, Wang Lijun breeds his own piglets to avoid buying infected animals. His herd shrank from 160 to 170 animals to about 20 to 30 but none died this year.

“All farmers are cutting production,” he said, walking past a row of cages holding pregnant sows.

The number of sows needed for breeding had fallen 19% from a year ago by the end of February, which suggests supply will plunge through next year, the USDA forecasts.

“China’s herd-rebuilding will be slow and take years,” said Rabobank.

In Vietnam, the government said in mid-May that 1.2 million pigs, or about 5% of its total herds, had died or been destroyed. Rabobank expects Vietnamese pork production to fall 10% this year from 2018.

China’s biggest foreign pork supplier is Spain, which accounts for 20% of imports. Germany supplies 19.5% and Canada 16%.

Spanish exports of pork and other pig products to China jumped 32.8% in the first two months of 2019 from a year earlier to 117 million euros ($131 million), according to Interporc, a Spanish industry group.

“My suppliers have told me that they are going to raise prices at the end of the month because of what is happening in China,” said Jordi Nargares, a butcher in a working class neighborhood of Barcelona.

U.S. pork sales to China have been disrupted by Beijing’s tariff war with the Trump administration over trade and technology.

Chinese buyers canceled orders for 3,300 tons of American pork the week of May 6, according to the USDA.

Chinese companies are investing in farms and food processors abroad to capitalize on strong demand. New Hope Group, one of China’s biggest agribusiness groups, said it plans to invest 1.1 billion yuan ($170 million) in three pig-breeding farms in Vietnam.

With research confirming that swine viruses can be transmitted through feed and feedstuffs, new studies are looking at how to prevent the spread of foreign animal diseases, such as African swine fever (ASF), via these vehicles. Based on new research, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians have revised the information for feed holding times.

The Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER), the public charity of the American Feed Industry Association, helped fund the research that resulted in the updated information that provide the best and most current understanding of viral survivability in feedstuffs and details for mitigating risk to domestic herds.

“The science on viral transmission through feed and feedstuffs is still relatively young, but it has yielded some interesting and potentially useful information on mitigating the spread of costly viruses, such as ASF,” said Paul Sundberg, DVM, Swine Health Information Center executive director. “This includes recognition that not all imported feedstuffs are manufactured and handled in the same way. It’s important to know whether ingredients are produced under biosecure conditions and how they were shipped.”

The new details decrease holding times over the initial estimations, which were calculated in October 2018 based on the available research, and give additional assurances of further viral degradation if the feed ingredients are contaminated.

“Variations of the same feed components might cause disparity in holding time confidence,” said David Pyburn, DVM, National Pork Board senior vice president, science and technology. “For example, according to research using Senecavirus A (Seneca Valley virus), which is suggested to have the longest holding time of studied viruses, increasing holding times by an additional 30% would give an opportunity for 99.999% degradation of contaminating viruses.”

More research would be needed to confirm that the results could be extrapolated to other feed ingredients in like classes to those studied. The updated information shows new holding times details for general informational and educational purposes. They should not be considered as to be recommending or advocating any specific course of action.

Mean Holding Time for 99.99% Degradation Days at 4° C (36.9° F) Days at 15° C (59° F) Days at 30° C (86° F)
Conventional
Soybean Meal
143 52 26
DDGS 494 182 26
Vitamin D 39 26 26
Lysine 78 13 13

“Continued diligence on feedstuffs origin, the manufacturing processes, the shipping methods and ‘born on date’ is essential,” Liz Wagstrom, DVM, National Pork Producers Council chief veterinarian, said. “Feedstuffs manufactured, sealed, handled, and shipped under biosecure conditions produces an ingredient free of pathogens and reduces the risk of post-processing contamination, resulting in little to no risk to animal health.”

For example, vitamins and amino acids are typically shipped in sealed or secure containers. Anything produced under unknown conditions or unsealed can pose an animal health risk. Imported soybean meal and DDGS are often transported in non-sealed or non-secure containers. Knowing the origin of ingredients and the disease status of the region or country is essential.

“The feed industry is a committed partner in the effort to prevent foreign animal diseases from entering the U.S. through imported feed ingredients,” said Leah Wilkinson, vice president for public policy and education for the American Feed Industry Association. “This additional information on holding times is helpful. We encourage dialogue with your feed ingredient or feed supplier to discover all of the measures that have been put in place to supply a safe product.”

Complete information on the research leading to the holding time calculationand the document, U.S. Pork Industry Organization Provide ‘Options’ for Handling Imported Feed Ingredients, are available at swinehealth.org.

Many farms in China infected with African swine fever are not restocking with pigs. Bloomberg News reports that 80 percent of farms infected with the deadly virus are not restocking, leaving a significant gap in production.

China is the world’s largest pork producer, but agriculture officials in China say production has dropped 21 percent since African swine fever was first reported last August. And, a new outbreak on an island province was reported over the weekend. The declining hog production in China will result in lower demand for soybeans and feed products, but an increase in the need for pork products. Officials in China say, “if confidence among breeders fails to recover, it will hurt consumers.”

They predict pork supplies could start to tighten and prices may hit record levels in the second half of the year, before tightening further in 2020. Pork accounts for more than 60 percent of meat consumption in China.

With The global African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in China is wreaking havoc on the international pork industry. Fortunately, ASF is not in the United States at this time, but the possibility of it or another foreign animal disease (FAD), means that American pig farmers must take the necessary steps to protect their farms and the domestic pork industry.

As U.S. pig farmers know, a robust export market is critical to the ongoing success of the nation’s pork industry. In 2018, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 5.37 billion pounds valued at $6.392 billion, according to USDA. If an FAD such as ASF entered the United States, it would likely eliminate this entire valuation to zero for an unknown amount of time. Taking steps to prevent it from occurring require immediate action such as those outlined in resources in this newsletter and found at www.pork.org/fad.

On-Farm Biosecurity Resources
To help guard against FADs, consider using these checklists and fact sheets for pigs raised indoors or outdoors. They stress the importance of having an enhanced biosecurity plan in place that is unique to your own farm’s needs.

Know the Signs…
Anyone who works with pigs should be familiar with the signs of ASF in the animals:

  • High fever
  • Decreased appetite and weakness
  • Red, blotchy skin or skin lesions
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Coughing and difficulty breathing

To help ensure none of these signs are overlooked, be sure to get your free hard copies of FAD Barn Posters and fact sheets from the Pork Checkoff in English or Spanish by going to the Pork Store via pork.org.

With the official report coming late last week that the island province of Hainan was positive for African swine fever (ASF), China is now essentially ASF-positive in its entirety. In the west, Xinjiang was found to be positive in early April, followed shortly by Tibet. The only areas not known to be ASF-positive now are the city-based zones of Hong Kong and Macau, which are in the extreme south of China.

Since its discovery in China in August 2018, Rabobank estimates that ASF has affected 150 million to 200 million pigs, which is nearly 30% larger than annual U.S. pork production and equivalent to Europe’s annual pork supply. These losses cannot easily be replaced by other proteins (chicken, duck, seafood, beef and lamb), nor will larger imports be able to fully offset the loss. The firm believes this will result in a net supply gap of almost 10 million metric tons in the total 2019 animal protein supply, which could be a leading driver of recent pork import announcements.

Cambodia Joins Vietnam as ASF-Positive

The recent notice by the OIE, which flagged Cambodia as being positive for ASF, revealed that 400 pigs died from the disease and another 100 pigs were culled. The outbreak is in the northeastern-most Rattanakiri province bordering Vietnam, which was itself found to be ASF-positive on Feb. 19.

Most of Vietnam’s 556 cases of ASF outbreak have occurred in this northern area. Some Vietnamese officials have said that the virus may have entered the country via people who brought infected pigs from China or from China-made hog feed.

In a report by the World Organization for Animal Health last week, South Africa now has a case of ASF outside of its ASF control zone (in blue area on map beyond red line of control zone). The announcement was triggered by news of a small pig farm in the country’s North West province where 32 of 36 pigs died. Since this was outside of South Africa’s control zone for the disease, contact with infected wild pigs is suspected.

 

The National Pork Board today offered a statement of support to the National Pork Producers Council as it took the extremely rare step to cancel the 2019 World Pork Expo scheduled June 5-7, 2019, in Des Moines.

“We completely understand that to cancel World Pork Expo is a tough decision that no one wants to make,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “But when it comes to the ongoing spread of African swine fever in Asia and Europe, caution must come first. We stand by our pig-farming partners in doing anything we can to stem the spread of this disease.”

The Pork Checkoff has been helping to inform producers’ response to African swine fever since it broke in China in August 2018. The fundamental purposes of the Checkoff are swine research, producer education and pork promotion. To that end, the organization has provided comprehensive information through a dedicated foreign animal disease web page located at pork.org/fad.

Key materials on the page that every pig farmer need to know center on protecting their herd through following biosecurity principles and ensuring every pig farm has a defined Premises Identification Number, or PIN, which are fundamental to the U.S. pork industry’s Secure Pork Supply plan. Details on the Secure Pork Supply plan are at securepork.org.

“We acknowledge the relatively low risk that World Pork Expo may have posed to the introduction of African swine fever to the U.S. But any risk needs to be managed – and that is our purpose at the National Pork Board,” Rommereim said. “This is a serious global issue and we need to maintain our commitment and oversight to managing this disease spread.”

Rommereim encourages all U.S. pig farmers to review the foreign animal disease preparation checklist and biosecurity steps to take, among other materials located on pork.org/fad.