CHINA March 2019
 
African Swine Fever leads to switch from Pork to Beef
 
As millions of pigs being continuously culled in China and elsewhere in Asia due to the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF), with no end in sight, some Chinese consumers have started to switch to alternative meat products like beef.
In 2019, China will eclipse the US as the world’s leading beef importer. One country, Australia is set to benefit from the growing consumption of beef in China. In 2018, Australia’s total beef exports to China rose by nearly 50% reaching 163,000 tonnes. In January 2019, beef exports climbed another 38% from the previous year, making China Australia’s 3rd largest export market. China is already the largest export market for beef for major South American beef producers in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. It is also New Zealand’s 2nd largest export market.
Despite the convincing import volume for beef in 2018, almost 90% of China’s beef consumption is still domestically produced.
Matt Dalgleish, Market Analyst for Mercado, Australia’s leading market information agency for Livestock said, “The issues faced in China currently regarding African Swine Fever and the reports of nearly one million pigs being culled due to the contagion are beginning to flow through to additional demand for alternative proteins, such as beef and mutton.”
Pork is the most popular meat in countries like China and South Korea. In 2018, prior to the full-blown outbreak of ASF, the top 3 export markets for US pork excluding neighbouring Mexico were Asian countries and these included Japan (US$1.62 billion), China (US$851 million) and South Korea (US$670 million). ASF has now affected 28 of China’s 34 provinces and regions, and it has spread to neighbouring countries like Vietnam. C.P Vietnam, a major pork processor, already expects to suffer losses due to the rapid expansion of ASF in the northern provinces in Vietnam. Even with effective preventative measures, Vietnamese consumers will turn away from consuming pork for as long as the duration of the epidemic.
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), ASF is a highly contagious virus that causes an often fatal disease in pigs. The disease is similar to classical swine fever, although they are caused by different viruses. Both diseases only affect pigs and humans are not affected by ASF, although humans will naturally shun ‘diseased’ meat sources.
Since early 2017, as many as 20 countries have reported ASF infections with more than one million pigs culled.
 
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