African Swine Fever Kills 100 Million Pigs In China

Global food insecurity linked to intensive farming, spread of exotic diseases 

| Hong Kong, CNN Business – African swine fever has wiped out a third of China’s pig population.

Now government officials are discussing dramatic steps to stabilize the world’s largest pork market.

Pork is a huge deal in China. The country is home to half of all the pigs on the planet.

The meat is a staple of the Chinese diet, which means its scarcity could damage China’s social stability. The outbreak of swine fever also threatens to upend the global pork supply chain.

While Chinese authorities have already made plans to shore up the pig market — including subsidies for pig farms and families who may struggle with soaring prices — they’re stepping up efforts to deal with the crisis.

The price retailers pay for pork has spiked nearly 70% in the last year.

And the average price that wholesalers pay suppliers was up 90% in the last week of August compared to a year ago, according to government data. Analysts say prices could yet go even higher.

The government on Wednesday announced more measures to encourage pig farmers and producers to breed more hogs. But they may need to go even further to plug the supply gap.

Authorities have pledged to release the government’s emergency reserves of frozen pig meat if necessary.

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said last week that the agency will “closely monitor market developments” before it makes such a decision.

It’s difficult to overstate the scale of the problem. As of July, China had lost more than 100 million pigs in the last year, according data released Tuesday by the country’s agricultural ministry.

Saving China’s pork industry

Part of the problem is that farmers aren’t restocking their live pigs after the sick animals die, according to China’s agricultural ministry.

That has prompted Chinese authorities to explore ways to encourage farmers and producers to breed more hogs. Read more. IMAGE: shankar s., CC BY 2.0