The World Organization for Animal Health warns of a crisis. It’s African swine fever. A quarter of the world’s pig population could be wiped out. So said its President Mark Schipp, on October 31st 2019 as he addressed the media in Sydney.
“It’s the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation”, Mark Schipp warned.
China has half the world pig population. To try to contain the disease, Chinese authorities have destroyed 1.2 million pigs since August 2018. As a result, pork prices have doubled within a year.
It has also questioned the way in which pigs have been raised in China. Traditionally pigs were raised in small backyard operations. This type of production will no longer be permitted. Instead pigs will only be raised by large controlled commercial enterprises. In this way the health of the pigs can be checked on a regular basis and disease control can be more readily contained.
With the reduction in pork supply, other protein sources are being used to substitute the lack of pork. This in turn has raised prices for these other protein sources.
China is not the only country to suffer though. Mongolia, South Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and East Timor have all had confirmed cases this year.
The disease itself started in Kenya in 1921 and was confined to the African region until it was found in Portugal in 1957. A strict culling policy has managed to control the disease on the Iberian peninsula. Since then African swine fever has hit Russia, Cuba and Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria.
African swine fever in pigs does not cross contaminate to humans.
With the outbreak in China and other pig producing countries in South East Asia, it means the supply of pork meat has been severely reduced. As traders it is a good time to lock in prices with a 12 months’ contract before the price rises any higher.