Lyle Jones, Genesus Director of Sales, China

On the road again in China- firsthand perspective of what’s happening in the China Hog Market today…

After more than 3 years of video conferencing, we are back in China again. I will be traveling with our Genesus China team through the end of March.It is good to be back and I’m looking forward to seeing many clients and friends at the Leman China Conference on March 23rd in Changsha, or somewhere along the Journey.

Slaughter pig prices have been flat since the first of the year, going against the normal trend when producers typically enjoy their highest profits around the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival Holiday season. On January 6, 2023, the national average slaughter pig was RMB 15.2 ($1.00/lb.) last Friday, March 17th the price was only RMB 15.42 ($1.05/lb.) However, these have not been normal times recently with Covid Pandemic suppressing demand and a new resurgence of ASF resulting in the marketing of Sows and pigs of all weights.

There have been reports of ASF outbreaks occurring much more severe than we have seen since 2020. Since ASF first emerged here in 2018, it has not been a reportable disease and has never been controlled. Much focus has been put on improved bio-security measures, but often they are misdirected and not well implemented. Too often we see extreme efforts to guard against entry from the front door (people), but lax measures to prevent entry from coming in the backdoor- feed, and cull sow trucks.

What makes this outbreak different from the previous 3 years is that it is wider spread and much more severe. According to industry insiders, the recent rising epidemic has led to 70% of sows lost in parts of Shandong and Hebei provinces; some areas in Henan lost 30% – 35%. The incidence rate of disease in Shanxi is also high, with a large pig enterprise losing 70%; Currently, ASF is bad in the south where some parts of Guangdong lost 15%.

To find out why this outbreak is wider spread and more severe than in the recent 3 years, we spoke with a university professor who indicated that this is a low Virulent strain caused by the use of many vaccines available in China today. We were a bit surprised to learn that producers were still using ASF vaccines. Most producers stopped using them, but many small producers still believe in them and continue using them in fattening and finishing farms.

This low Virulent strain is harder to detect and the selective “pull the tooth” method of management of the disease doesn’t work. Producers can’t just go in and pull out those with clinical signs and maintain the rest of the herd. All the animals must go to slaughter and the entire farm is emptied.

Who knows how bad it really is, but one Mega Producer we spoke with estimates 20-30% of all sows in China may be lost before it subsides. This company has a 350,000 sows capacity, but only 175,000 sows in inventory. No doubt ASF and low market conditions are affecting China’s production capacity and there will be some void on the back side of this outbreak that will result in significant price increases in the latter part of the year.

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This post was written by Genesus