China has an annual pork market of $1-trillion. North-east production is forecast to reach 120-million pigs. Picture: REUTERS
China has an annual pork market of $1-trillion. North-east production is forecast to reach 120-million pigs. Picture: REUTERS

Paris — Pork production in China is expected to expand again after 2020 to meet robust long-term demand.

The country is recovering from a deadly pig disease that is set to hit local supply and lead to a spike in imports this year, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Monday.

However, there was considerable uncertainty over the medium term of African swine fever, which was seen as more difficult to manage than the spread of the fall armyworm crop pest in China and other parts of Asia, the FAO and the OECD said in their Agricultural Outlook for 2019-2028.

China, the world’s largest pork producer, is grappling with African swine fever, which has spread across much of the country in the past year. There is no cure or vaccine for the disease, which is often fatal for pigs although harmless for humans.

Chinese pork output was projected to fall 5% this year, while imports were forecast to rise to almost 2-million tons from an average 1.6-million tons a year in 2016-2018, the FAO and OECD said in their annual report.

Chinese tariffs against US supplies should benefit demand for imports from Brazil, Canada and the EU, they said.

Other observers have projected a steeper fall in Chinese pork production as herds are culled and cases are suspected of being under-reported. The authorities have said that output is now recovering.

Both production and consumption of pork in China were projected to recover in 2020 to 2018 levels, before resuming their longer-term growth path, the FAO and OECD said, adding this would curb global output in the near term.

“Measures to contain the outbreak are assumed to moderately depress global pork production in the short term,” they said.

“As their success is uncertain the medium term impact of the epidemic may become more severe than currently anticipated.”

Reuters