By Bloomberg News
China’s hog population rose 24% in the year through May and has now almost fully recovered from the recent resurgence in African swine fever, according to the country’s agriculture ministry.
Herd sizes are close to normal for this time of year, Xin Guochang, an official at the ministry’s animal husbandry bureau, said in an interview on state television. Meanwhile, around 3.5 million of low-productivity breeding sows were culled in the first five months of the year, he said, which should lead to an improvement in herd fertility.
African swine fever devastated pig numbers in China in 2018 and there was a resurgence of the disease earlier this year. Domestic pork prices have fallen by almost half so far in 2021 to 22.45 yuan ($3.47) a kilogram amid weak demand and as farmers rebuilt their herds, keeping imports low and spurring a rout in the shares of producers like Muyuan Foods Co. and New Hope Liuhe Co.
Panic selling of pigs led to a “stampede effect” in the world’s biggest pork market, pushing prices down even further, Xin said. Around 10% of Chinese hog farmers were making losses in May, while others are still profitable as long as prices stay above 12 yuan a kilo, he said. The number of the low-productivity sows destined for meat instead of breeding has dropped to 12% of the total sow herd from 22% at the end of last year, Xin said.