China’s Feed Grain Demand Set to Rise as African Swine Fever Wanes

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China appears to have brought under control a winter resurgence in African swine fever. New data shows the country’s hog and sow populations began growing again in March, and this could signal heightened demand for feed grains in coming months. 

Gro data, based on a survey of major hog producers, shows that China’s hog herd grew 1.06% in March from the previous month, while the sow population expanded 1.96%. That follows declines in herd size in both January and February, as colder temperatures stoked the African swine fever (ASF) infection rate, especially in northern provinces. Renewed growth in China’s hog population has pushed down the price of live hogs by 36% from a recent peak in January. 

Gro continues to expect a full recovery of China’s hog herd in the second half of 2021, after ASF wiped out roughly half of China’s hog population in 2018-19. China is a key driver of global pork, grain and oilseed demand, and Gro’s machine-learning-based China Pork Demand Forecast Model provides a leading indicator of pork demand and hence prices of hogs, grains, and oilseeds for the coming year. 

The hog herd recovery, along with increased industrialization of the hog industry, was the main driver of China’s record grain imports in 2020, including 4.3 million tonnes of US corn. New crop plantings in the US will be critical to satisfy any future growth in China’s feed demand. But a recent USDA report shows farmer planting intentions are for fewer corn and soy acres than the market had expected, and therefore ideal weather conditions will be needed to replenish currently tight supplies. 

Gro users can follow US market-price movements and weather-driven developments in April and May to stay ahead of the planting season, and daily updates from Gro’s Yield Forecast Models for corn and soybeans when the US growing season gets underway. 

This insight was powered by the Gro platform, which enables better and faster decisions about factors affecting the entire global agricultural ecosystem. Gro organizes over 40,000 datasets from sources around the world into a unified ontology, which allows users to derive valuable insights such as this one. You can explore the data available on Gro with a free account, or please get in touch if you would like to learn more about a specific crop, region, or business issue.

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