September 10, 2019


Vietnam's pork shortage may hit US$1.3 billion by Jan, report says



Vietnam may face a 500,000-tonne pork shortage between now and the Lunar New Year in January as African swine fever (ASF) continues in the country, according to Ipsos Business Consulting, Bloomberg reports.

It is unclear whether pork imports from the United States and Europe will be able to make up for most of the shortage, valued at about US$1.29 billion, said Phong Quach, country head of Ipsos Business Consulting. The Vietnamese prefer fresh pork, which is purchased at traditional wet markets, while most imported pork is frozen, he said. Storage and processing facilities for huge quantities of pork to meet daily consumption and buying habits, and a system to distribute the meat to local markets beyond large supermarkets in major cities, would be needed, Phong added.

According to Nguyen Tat Thang, general secretary of the Vietnam Animal Husbandry Association, Vietnam's pork imports surged five- to seven-fold in the first half of the year and will rise more through the end of the year.

Pork contributed to about 70% of all meat consumed last year in Vietnam, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

To date about five million pigs have been culled across Vietnam, or about 20% of the country's swine herd, since the disease was first reported in two northern provinces at the start of February, Thang said. Disease control efforts have since failed to prevent the transmission of the virus, which has re-emerged in some provinces that was previously declared free of swine fever, he added.

"I am very concerned about the looming lack of pork supply as all the sows in the affected farms were culled or sold due to the swine fever virus," said Nguyen Kim Doan, deputy head of the animal husbandry association in Dong Nai province, known as Vietnam's "pig capital". The province has seen more than 30% of its swine population culled. "It is very dangerous to produce new pigs as the virus has emerged everywhere across Vietnam," he added.

Consumers are likely to start experiencing the pork shortage at the end of October, according to Doan. Compounding the problem is the interest of some buyers to acquire Vietnamese pigs at premium prices for exports to China, which is also experiencing a severe pork shortage, he said.