China boasts the largest pig supply in the world, but it's all under threat from the ongoing African swine fever crisis.
Experts say that the consequences of the viral disease, which is projected to cost the nation 200 million pigs, will be felt all around the world.
Ongoing Crisis In China
South China Morning Post reports that since the crisis began in August 2018, China has culled 1.02 million pigs and confirmed 129 cases of African swine fever, according to Wang Junxun of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
The population of mother pigs or sows has plummeted 21 percent in a single year, which could lead to limited supply in the future. As a result, prices have already increased, and it's expected to rise even higher later in 2019.
Some experts reveal that the reality may be even worse than the numbers that are made public. An industry source who asked not to be named explained that the government is not fully reporting the real situation at big pig farms where output could have already been reduced by 30 to 40 percent.
China could lose a total of up to 200 million pigs, according to Rabobank, which is nearly three times the pig population of the entire United States. If there is a shortfall in China, the shortage of pork in the country will be much more than what the rest of the world can provide.
The Impact On The Rest Of The World
In a report from Bloomberg, Arlan Suderman, the chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone Inc., explained that the African swine fever will cause China to restructure its farm industry, and the rising prices will affect the entire world.
He added that it may take five to seven years until the disease stops spreading and farms are able to restore the stocks lost. Unfortunately, China's pork deficit cannot be replaced.
"That capacity isn't available anywhere in the world unless China is willing to pay a high enough price to bid that meat out of the hands of consumers in the U.S. as well as the rest of the world," said Suderman. "I don't think there's enough refrigerated ocean freighters to fill that gap even if China is able to buy it."
African Swine Fever
African swine fever is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting pigs, according to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. There is no available treatment or vaccine for the disease, which means the only way to stop an outbreak is by eliminating all affected or exposed herds.
While the African swine fever has spread in numerous countries including China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and the sub-Saharan, it has never been found in the United States.