September 20, 2018
African swine fever cases in China total 20 and counting
Despite measures to contain African swine fever, it is unlikely that China has controlled the spread of the disease, based on the broad dispersion of cases reported so far, according to a report by the agricultural lender Rabobank.
Rabobank said that as of Sept. 18, China has reported 20 ASF cases in seven provinces, and that more cases are expected to be reported. The first ASF case in China was reported on Aug. 3 in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province.
To prevent the spread of the virus, China has restricted the movement of live animals within the seven affected provinces and in the 11 neighboring provinces.
However, the curb on transport of animals within China has created significant dislocations in animal and pork supplies.
Prices in affected provinces in eastern and southern China, which are without readily available production, have seen as much as a 40% increase in prices since transport bans were implemented, Rabobank said.
A supply gap of as much as 2 million to 3 million tonnes could emerge in the coming months, according to Rabobank, which based the figures on the herd losses seen in the 2007 outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (or blue ear disease).
Because of the more expensive and scarce supplies of pork, Chinese consumers are expected to shift to alternative proteins like chicken, farmed whitefish and even beef. In unaffected production zones, biosecurity and testing are expected to be stepped up to ensure continued access to export markets.
"While there is still much we do not know about how ASF will spread in the coming months, what is clear is that the scale of potential upside in demand and potential risk of contamination has perhaps never been greater", Rabobank said.