Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

London — An African swine fever  outbreak is expected to cut China’s pig meat output by at least 10% in 2019 and present opportunities for producers elsewhere, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday. 

The shrinking of the world’s largest hog herd will have a noticeable effect on meat and feed markets worldwide, with more than 1-million pigs culled in China so far in an effort to halt the contagion, the FAO said in a food outlook report.

“With the sharp decline in pig inventories, the exponentially rising [feed] import trend, especially of soya beans over the past two decades could come to an abrupt halt,” the report said.

The disease has also spread to neighbouring countries, notably Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia and Cambodia.

“The unfortunate prospect facing Asian producers could bring opportunities for [pork] producers elsewhere, particularly those in Europe, the US and Brazil,” the FAO said.

“It is a rare combination of events that presents pig producers with higher prices, higher export volumes and lower feed prices. But the data available for the spread of ASF so far would indicate that in Europe and the Americas pig producers may be about to enjoy precisely this situation.”

Global pig meat production is forecast at 115.6-million tons in 2019, a decline of 4% from the prior year with a contraction in China outweighing expansions especially in the US, Brazil and Russia.

EU pig meat production is forecast to remain stable at about 24- million tons with the continued spread of ASF in countries such as Romania, Hungary and Poland dimming the outlook.

The US is forecast to raise production by 3.8% to nearly 12- million tons in 2019, relying on its largest pig herd inventory since 2009.

Poultry exporters worldwide are also expected to benefit.

“As China may make efforts to supply consumers who normally purchase pig meat with alternative proteins, it will have to resort to other meats, notably poultry meat,” the FAO said, noting the largest poultry producers were Brazil, the US and Thailand as well as some EU countries.