July 5, 2022
Germany's latest African swine fever outbreak deals major blow to sector
Analysts said the discovery of African swine fever (ASF) at Germany's key swine region of Lower Saxony is likely to deal a major blow to the sector, with important markets such as China expected to maintain its pork import ban on Germany for years, Reuters reported.
The first outbreak in the northwest of the country, where a sizable portion of Germany's swine industry is concentrated, occurred on a farm in Emsland, Lower Saxony.
ASF, which is usually fatal to pigs but harmless to humans, was first discovered in eastern Germany in September 2020 and is thought to have spread from Poland through wild boars. This led China to impose a ban on the importation of German pork, ending a trade that was generating about US$1.04 billion in revenue annually.
Other significant importers, such as South Korea and Japan, followed suit. A rival EU producer, Spain, was one country that was able to gain new business in Asia as a result of the bans.
Justin Sherrard, global strategist for animal protein at Rabobank, said this is very alarming news and if there were hopes that ASF had been confined to east Germany and that the disease was under control, these have now been completely thrown out of the window.
Germany's national statistics office said, Lower Saxony is the country's largest single production region for swine, with 6.4 million pigs and piglets.
Tim Koch, meat analyst at German market consultancy AMI, said China's import ban on German pork can be expected to continue as long as ASF cases continue to occur in Germany, with any hopes that China might remove the ban soon are gone.
Germany had long been the top pork producer in the EU, but Spain overtook it last year after it was denied access to China, the biggest pork importer in the world.
China, which has the largest swine herd in the world, has also experienced significant losses as a result of ASF but is now starting to rebound.
China's demand for pork imports from Europe has already decreased, and Koch noted that it might take years before the Chinese market is once again open to German pork exports.
Despite government efforts to contain the disease to east Germany, a spread of the illness had been anticipated due to the growing number of wild boar in Germany and their propensity for long distance travel. Germany has seen about 4,000 ASF cases in wild boar, mostly in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony.
Concerns about the outbreak's potential to spread to neighbouring nations have grown.
Sherrad said the concern is that ASF could move to the big pork industries in the Netherlands and France if it can make a 500-kilometer jump from east Germany to north Germany.