December 31, 2019
Poultry industry in China affected by African swine fever crisis
Swine farmers have turned to poultry after herds were decimated by the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak, but increased supply of chicken mean farmers don't profit from rising chicken prices, reported South China Morning Post.
Prices for pork more than doubled, rising by 110.2% compared to 2018 and resulting in the highest consumer inflation rate in China in eight years. With prices at its highest, consumers have switched to alternative meats like chicken or dog, which are more affordable.
China's National Bureau of Statics said poultry consumption (national per capita) increased to nine kilograms in 2018, compared to only eight kilograms in 2014. According to China Chamber of Commerce, Netherlands data, this is projected to hit 11.4 kilogrammes per person next year.
Poultry production per year reached three million tonnes in 2019, according to government data.
However, poultry farmers in China aren't making a profit. Even though chicken retail prices have gone up 23% and egg prices increased 29% between June and November this year, the addition of converted poultry farmers have pushed supplier prices to its lowest.
Chen, a poultry farmer for 10 years in Goshan, neighbouring Guangzhou, said wholesalers are raking profits while farmers suffer losses. He said new poultry farmers are not experienced, breeding poor quality chickens which garner low prices. Current prices are lower than when the country was affected by a bird flu outbreak.
Mo Bangmin, a poultry farmer from Guangdong, said he lost 400,000 RMB (~US$57,000; 1 RMB = US$0.14) when a third of his swine herd perished in 2018. He is currently suffering a 200,000 RMB (~US$28,500) loss from poultry.
Mo said he purchases chicks at 8 RMB (~US$1.10) per bird, with feed costs at 16 RMB (~US$2.30) each. Middlemen offered only 10 RMB (~US$1.40) a kilogramme per bird.
Chen Chunhua, another poultry farmer based in Foshan city, sold all her 40,000 chickens by early December at only 11.20 RMB (~US$1.60) per kilogramme, which she notes is sold at markets for 30 RMB (~US$4.30) per kilogramme. She said chicken above four kilogrammes are difficult to sell, so she is forced to sell as soon as possible.
China's government has implemented several new measures aimed at restoring swine stocks in the country. These include discounted loans, subsidies, swine insurance and new land for swine farmers.
However, analysts believe China will need years to restore its swine production to a level before ASF.
- South China Morning Post