Chinese pig herd rebuild to impact global red meat demand

By Adrian Ladaniwskyj, Mecardo, 9 February 2021, photo credit: The Scottish Farmer

Official statements from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last month are that the pig herd grew by 31% in 2020; and breeding sow numbers have surged 35%, putting the pig herd at 407 million head as of the end of 2020. However, 2020’s pork production was low, and pork prices are still high, so pork supply is still clearly tight.

Over the past few years, the big story in the animal protein markets has been the huge impact that African swine fever (ASF) decimating the Chinese pig herd has had on world meat prices of every persuasion.

A couple weeks ago, the Chinese National Bureau of statistics made an announcement about the grand success of the Chinese economy over the course of 2020. Within it, was a key statement that the overall swine herd was up 31% from 2019, with the all-important breeding herd having risen 35%.  The last official figure on the Chinese pig herd released back in January 2020 was 310 million head. The end of 2020 figure is just 5% below 2018’s level of 428m (Figure 1).
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The South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) coordinates industry interventions and collaboratively manages risks in the value chain to enable the sustainability and profitability of pork producers in South Africa.