China’s 2019 Pork Output Plunges to 16-Year Low

( Taoqi Shao )

China’s 2019 pork output plunged to a 16-year low, but the plunge wasn’t as great as some expected. 

“Honestly, that's not as big of a drop as what I thought it might be. As a matter of fact, I don't think it's as big a drop as what the market was thinking it would be,” Chip Flory said during AgriTalk on Friday.

Official data on Friday from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that China produced 42.55 million metric tons of pork, down 21.3% from 2018 and the lowest output since 2003, Reuters reports.

In light of the devastation the deadly hog disease, African swine fever (ASF), has caused in China, some were surprised the numbers weren’t worse.

In November, Rabobank forecast that China’s pork production would shrink by 25% in 2019 to about 40.5 million metric tons, with a further 10% to 15% in 2020.

With the big increases in the first half of 2019 due to liquidation of herds because of ASF fears, China mostly experienced declines mid-year.

In October, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs reported China’s hog herd had declined by 41% from a year earlier but rose by 2% in November. No herd size was provided at this time.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the NBS said the pig herd declined 27.5% from a year earlier to 310.41 million head by the end of December, the article said. That number is up from the 306.75 million head reported for the first nine months of the year.

Reuters reports some analysts and industry insiders have disputed the official government toll on the herd size, believing the decline was larger.

The NBS also reported that the number of slaughtered hogs last year fell 21.6% to 544.19 million head.

In an effort to stabilize prices, the government has released hundreds of thousands of metric tons of frozen pork from reserves. They’ve also imported more pork, with December arrivals of pork almost double the previous monthly record.

Total meat output, including pork, beef, lamb and poultry, fell 10.2% in 2019 to 76.49 million metric tons, Reuters reports. Beef output rose 3.6% to 6.67 million metric tons while poultry output jumped 12.3% to 22.39 million metric tons.

ASF, an incurable virus that kills almost all the pigs it infects but does not harm humans, reached China in 2018 and spread to farms across the country. Soaring food prices in China amid the supply shortage, have driven inflation close to an eight-year high in the world’s second-largest economy, Reuters reports.

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