Outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Asian hogs turned into a bonus for global hog producers, including Saskatchewan.
Hog producers in this province saw a 34 per cent increase in prices year-over-year for the week ended April 17. The price moved up 3.7 per cent the next week to $1.78 a pound.
Netherlands agricultural bank Rabobank, estimates that ASF and hog culling has reduced Chinese hog population between 150 million and 200 million.
The severity of hog loss was illustrated when top Chinese hog producer Wen’s Foodstuffs posted a $65.5 US million loss for the first three months of the year.
Wen’s production was up 20 per cent to almost 28 million hogs but lower prices and ASF protection measures caused the loss.
By comparison, Canada had about 28 million hogs in 2018 while the Chinese loss equals 30 per cent of U.S. pig numbers.
All of China, except Hong Kong and the gambling centre of Macau, now have ASF infections.
Northern Cambodia and nearby Northern Vietnam have reported ASF with over 1,000 hogs infected or culled.
Rabobank estimates China could be short 10 million tonnes of protein this year. China is the world’s largest pork producer and pork consumer. Canada exported 1.2 million tonnes of pork in 2018.
And the disease has been discovered in South Africa outside an ASF-free zone.
To make matters worse, an outbreak of chlamydia in Chinese hogs threatens to further reduce the national hog herd. The disease prevents hogs from cycling and breeding.
As many as 200,000 young gilts (females) and 30,000 older females may need culling with a consequent loss of millions of piglets.
No one knows how the chlamydia started or how to stop it other than culling herds.
Meanwhile, Thai food conglomerate Charoen Pokophand Foods has acquired the remaining 50 per cent of Manitoba hog producer/processor Hy life Investments for $498 million Canadian that it did not own. Hylife had $745 million revenues and $88 million profits last year
The acquisition is one of three made by CPF in the last while.
2019 Hog Prices in US Cents/Pound
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Ron Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org