The outbreak of African swine fever in China has spread more than 1,000 miles from the first cases of the country, confirming a fourth outbreak of the highly contagious virus-growing concerns about a shortage of pork next year.
An outbreak on three farms in Yueqing in Zhejiang Province in eastern China was confirmed by the Chinese Center for Animal Health and Epidemiology, the country's ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Thursday. The virus killed 340 pigs there, according to the Ministry's website. Elsewhere, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, at least 8,000 pigs have been culled to control the disease.
The swine fever outbreak – the first confirmed in East Asia – is due to the fact that China has increased rates of up to 70% on pork from the US, one of the largest foreign suppliers of the meat. The increases and retaliatory measures for higher US rates force the country to be more dependent on local product and look at other markets such as Europe. In the long run, the disease could raise prices worldwide if it leads to a deficit in China, the world's largest producer and consumer of pork, analysts say.
The distance between the newly identified companies and where the virus was found in Liaoning province earlier this month indicates that it probably spread more than previously confirmed, said Chenjun Pan, a senior analyst at Rabobank. That will have a negative effect on domestic prices in the short term, she said.
African swine fever is not harmful to humans, but is usually fatal for pigs. It is highly contagious, with China endangering more than 400 million pigs and possibly causing a shortage of staple food.
There is no treatment for the disease, which also occurs in parts of Eastern and Central Europe and Africa, and civil servants rely on killing herds to eradicate it. China has put infected farms and surrounding areas in quarantine and killed animals that are or could be infected.
Farmers are expected to increase the number of pigs they bring to slaughter because of the fear that the disease can infect their farms, increasing the supply of pork and lowering prices. The average price of pork in China has increased by about 7% since the beginning of the month to 19.38 yuan ($ 2.82) per kilogram, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture. Prices remain above the lowest point in four years, seen in May, of about 15 yuan per kilogram, after the herds had been reduced.
If the infection spreads and more pigs are culled, there will likely be a decline in the demand for locally produced pork, because consumers are afraid to eat it, according to Simon Quilty, an independent meat industry analyst from Australia, who may be asking the question. to imported pork and other meat products.
Write to Lucy Craymer at [email protected]