U.S. Soy in China amid ASF Recovery

While China is still recovering from the impacts of African Swine Fever, the outlook is positive. U.S. Soy is a contender to meet soybean demand amid growth in the Chinese swine industry.

What started as one report of African Swine Fever (ASF) in August 2018 debilitated countless swine producers across China in just 9 months. The country has experienced the ebbs and flows of the virus since that time while working to prevent the spread and recover.

Xiaoping Zhang, U.S. Soybean Export Council Regional Director for Greater China, presented on ASF at the 2020 Global Grain Geneva, hosted virtually Nov. 17-19. He provided both a background of the virus in China and an updated future outlook throughout the session.

China was the largest pork producing and pork consuming country in 2017, Xiaoping Zhang said. The introduction of ASF in 2018 caused turmoil in the industry, impacting hog farmers and the market as a whole. Chinese swine production decreased by more than 130 million hogs from 2017 to 2019. This reduction was the result of rapid spread and a delay in implementing measures to confine the disease. Small and medium farmers had to rush to sell their livestock to avoid economic crisis before government programs were implemented.

After investigation, the Chinese government determined farmers and vehicles were predominately spreading ASF, Xiaoping Zhang explained. From there, they implemented guidelines to stop the spread, including culling hogs, blockades on farms and even farming bans.

Chinese hog farmers also lost market share within the country’s feed production throughout the ASF outbreak. The gain poultry production has made in the past nine years, has made it comparable to pork production in China.

Though farmers and markets took a hit because of ASF, Xiaoping Zhang explained that not all hope is lost in the country. Because of biosecurity measures and government programs now put in place, China has actually been seeing an increase in hog numbers, lending to a strong rebuild of inventory.

“The goal set by the government is that by the end of 2020, hog numbers will be recovered to 80 percent of the pre-African Swine Fever level,” Xiaoping Zhang said.

He added that there is a place for U.S. Soy in this recovery.

Chinese swine production only satisfies the demand of food needs in China, leaving the animal industry to rely on imports. There is a market for whole soybean imports to be processed into meal in the country. U.S. Soy is a contender to meet this demand.

“The U.S. Soy industry has been servicing this market for almost 40 years by partnering with animal industry, feed industry, crush industry and food industry with U.S. Soy solutions to increase the efficiency and profitability,” Xiaoping Zhang said. “We believe U.S. Soy advantages will continue to help China attain its goal of sustainable food security and food safety.”

After discovering the methods by which ASF was spreading, the Chinese government implemented measures to combat its spread.
Chinese poultry production has increased in recent years, catching up to pork production in the country.