July 16, 2020 / 5:01 AM / 20 days ago

China's pork output slides for 7th straight quarter in shadow of African swine fever

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s pork production fell for the seventh consecutive quarter in the April-June period as the world’s top pig producer continued to reel from the effects of the deadly African swine fever that decimated its pig herd.

Employees work at a pig slaughtering and pork processing plant in Huaian, Jiangsu province, China April 9, 2020. Picture taken April 9, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS/Files

Second-quarter pork output fell 4.7% compared with the same period a year ago to 9.6 million tonnes, according to Reuters calculations based on data released on Thursday by the National Bureau of Statistics that showed a 19.1% drop for the first six months of the year.

Though it represents some progress from the nearly one-third slide seen in fourth-quarter 2019 output, the first-half drop underlines the huge task China still faces in rebuilding its hog herd since African swine fever swept through the country’s farms at the end of 2018. Some analysts believe the herd shrank by as much as 60%.

China Pork Output here

China slaughtered 251.03 million hogs in the first six months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics said - a 20% drop from the same period a year earlier.

Its pig herd fell 2.2% year-on-year to 339.96 million head at end-June, but was up from 321.2 million at end of March.

Pork output is set to fall by 20% this year, according to Rabobank analysts, after skidding to a 16-year low of 42.6 million tonnes in 2019.

However, output should recover in due course with the sow herd growing. The statistics bureau said the sow herd at the end of June was 36.29 million head, up 5.4% from prior year, and up 7.3% from 33.81 million head at the end of March.

In the first half, meat including pork, beef, mutton, and poultry output was 34.89 million tonnes, down 11% year-on-year.

Reporting by Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu; Writing by Shivani Singh; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Kenneth Maxwell

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