Sick pigs affect trade

By Country News

African swine fever has the potential to cause waves in global meat trade which will flow through to the Australian beef market, according to Rabobank’s latest global Beef Quarterly report.

The report says the continued spread of African swine fever through China’s pig population is resulting in increased slaughter, transport bans and volatile prices.

Rabobank senior animal proteins analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said African swine fever continued to spread across China, with more than 60 confirmed cases up to November 19 scattered across all the major pork-producing provinces.

‘‘Most cases are in small-sized farms, but several were from larger-scale farms,’’ Mr Gidley-Baird said.

‘‘Given the sheer size of production and the fragmented structure, it will be a great challenge for China to control the disease spreading in the coming year.’’

Mr Gidley-Baird said while a decline in China’s pork production was clear, Chinese pork consumption was also expected to drop, giving rise to increases in the consumption and import of other animal proteins, including eggs, poultry, beef, mutton and seafood.

‘‘Australia is in a good position to supply increased Chinese beef import demand — Australia’s beef exports to China are up 43 per cent for the year to date in October.

‘‘But lower slaughter numbers due to the recent reduction in the Australian cattle herd will see our overall export volumes reduced in 2019, and this would be further exacerbated by an improvement in the season, which would see producers hold on to more cattle.’’