China’s Pork Output Drops in 2018

China’s pork output fell less than 1% in 2018 from the previous year, surprising many who had expected an increase as farmers liquidated their herds due to the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.

Pork output in China for 2018 fell to 54.04 million metric tons (MMT). Output gained slightly in the first three quarters of the year. China experienced high slaughter volumes in the last quarter as farmers tried to sell their stock before being struck by ASF and before prices dropped more, Reuters reported. This had analysts looking for an annual rise that didn’t happen.

“I think next year they will adjust the data (again),” says Yao Guiling, an analyst with China-America Commodity Data Analytics Inc, explaining that the output figures for 2017 were revised upwards last year.

China’s pork production is being scrutinized across the world as the top pork consumer deals with ASF, a highly transmissible disease that has now been in 25 of its provinces and municipalities, causing expectations of increased demand for pork and pork product imports.

China’s pig herd declined 3% to 428.17 million head last year, according to the data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Many pig farmers in China are slaughtering their herds now, leading to supply shortfall concerns in the second half of the year.

In 2018, the number of slaughtered pigs fell by 1.2% to 693.82 million head, according to the data. However, Chinese agriculture ministry data shows that slaughtering by designated companies increased by 9.3% in 2018, Yao says, while the national herd was down almost 5% in December from the same month of a year earlier.

Pork output increased by 0.3% in the first three quarters, according to previously released statistics bureau data, which analysts say reflects a rapid expansion in the country’s breeding herd in 2017.

The statistics bureau data also showed beef output grew by 1.5% to 6.44 MMT in 2018, the highest volume in records going back 20 years, while lamb output rose 0.8% to 4.75 MMT. Poultry production rose 0.6% to 19.94 MMT.

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