Resurgence of African Swine Fever in China Threatens Global Grain Demand

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A resurgence of African swine fever (ASF) has stalled China’s hog population recovery and threatens to put the brakes on soaring global feed grain demand. 

Gro data, based on a survey of major hog producers, shows the hog population fell in each of the first two months of this year, the first declines since August 2019. The sow population also dropped in February from the previous month. China’s September hog futures prices have jumped 16% and cash prices have risen 7% in recent weeks. (Gro’s China data is available to Enterprise users.)

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 latest setbacks could undermine Beijing’s expectation for a full hog herd recovery in Q1 or Q2 of this year, after ASF wiped out nearly half of China’s hog population in 2018.  

The hog herd recovery was the main driver of China’s record grain imports in 2020. But with that recovery now hitting a speed bump, inventory of corn, barley, and sorghum in Guangdong, the main destination for grain imports, is at a 5-year high. The USDA reports that at least 11.7 million tonnes of US corn and 2 million tonnes of US sorghum outstanding sales haven’t been executed yet. 

China never fully eliminated ASF but has managed to keep it sufficiently in check to allow the hog herd to grow. Winter temperatures increased the number of ASF cases at the start of this year, especially in Hebei, Henan, Anhui, Shandong, and Jiangsu provinces. China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs acknowledged in March that new ASF outbreaks occurred in Hubei and Sichuan provinces. 

If China is unable to control the latest ASF resurgence as the weather turns warmer in coming weeks, the fallout could have global impact on demand for feed grains as well as pork. 

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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