ASF Altering Pork Production, Trade: Rabobank

African Swine Fever is altering the outlook for hog production and trade around the world, said Rabobank Senior Analyst for Animal Protein Christine McCracken in an analysis last week.

In short, prospects for improved export demand for ASF-free countries has grown following outbreaks in China and more recently in Belgium, which is close to France and Germany, McCracken said.  However, the potential for this deadly disease to spread globally has grown exponentially.




In the near term, McCracken said RaboResearch analysts believe import-dependent nations will build stocks if they can and begin identifying ASF-free suppliers.

“This may work to the benefit of North American and South American pork exporters, as well as global poultry and beef suppliers,” she said.

China and affected parts of Europe likely will work to isolate and eliminate the source(s) of contamination, McCracken said, but efforts to rebuild secure supplies are likely to take months.

In the meantime, Chinese consumers could shift away from increasingly scarce and progressively more expensive pork and toward alternative proteins like chicken farmed whitefish and possibly even beef, she said.

Pork exporting zones and countries are likely to step up biosecurity and testing measures to ensure continued access to export markets, McCracken said.




Reuters reported Sunday that China has reported 40 cases of ASF, spread across at least seven provinces.

McCracken said that the broad dispersion of cases means it is unlikely the disease has been contained, and more cases were expected.  To contain it, China has restricted movement of live animals within the seven provinces with ASF cases, as well as the 11 neighboring provinces.  Active culling also is being done.

RaboReseach has found that the transportation curbs have created significant dislocations of animal and/or pork supplies, she said.  Surplus pork is weighing on markets as producers rush to market healthy stock, while prices in urban centers, along with regions in eastern and southern China without readily available production have seen as much as a 40% increase in prices since the transport bans were implemented.

Using the herd losses in the 2007 outbreak of PRRS, RaboResearch economists estimated that a supply gap of as much as two to three million tonnes could emerge in coming months, McCracken said.




The Sep. 13 discovery of ASF-positive feral pig carcasses in southern Belgium also is a cause for serious concern, she said.  Feral pig populations in the region are dense, and if ASF already is in the population, it will be difficult to contain.

European officials could implement strict biosecurity measures, but if feral pigs carry ASF into export-heavy countries like France or Germany, global trade could be affected severely, McCracken said.

European export disruptions would leave China with few options, she said.