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China’s third quarter pork output up by 18 percent from 2019

China’s third quarter pork production rose by 18 percent from 2019 to 8.4 million tonnes, but supplies are still tight.

19 October 2020, at 9:01am

Reuters reports the production figures based on their own calculations of official data. They report that this is the first signs of recovery in China’s pork industry.

It was the first quarter since July-September of 2018 to show a year-on-year increase in pork output, after an epidemic of African swine fever swept through the country's hog herd, causing production to plunge.

The incurable disease hit China's pig farms in August 2018 and reduced the breeding stock by an estimated 60 percent by late last year.

Pork output fell to a 16-year low of 42.6 million tonnes in 2019 and was expected to contract by another 20 percent this year, according to Rabobank.

But production in the first nine months of 2020 has only dropped 10.8 percent from a year earlier to 28.38 million tonnes, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday 19 October.

"That's higher than expected," said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank, referring to the amount of pork produced.

"Given that pork prices are still much higher than they were pre-ASF, I would expect a larger drop."

The large rise in the third quarter was helped by an especially weak comparative quarter in 2019, when output fell 42 percent on year to just 7 million tonnes, as the worst impact of swine fever became clear.

Other analysts also questioned the data showing the number of breeding sows had increased 28 percent to 38.22 million heads, close to levels prior to swine fever.

The number of pigs slaughtered fell 11.7 percent in the first nine months to 361.86 million, the data also showed.

But Xiong Kuan, an analyst at Cofco Futures, said in a note last week that less than 24 million pigs would be slaughtered this month, an 8 percent rise on September, but still far short of the typical monthly requirement of 45 million, he said.

Beef and lamb output have also contracted in the nine months, by 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, the data showed, although poultry output, a cheaper substitute for pork, grew by 6.5 percent.

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