CHINA, Beijing. China's meat production suffers from African swine fever and coronavirus. In the first quarter, production shrank by a fifth.
The consequences of African swine fever (ASF) and the corona pandemic have caused Chinese meat production to fall sharply in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same period last year. As reported by the Beijing Ministry of Agriculture on the basis of data from the national statistics office, meat production fell by a total of 4.39 mill. t or 19.5% to 18.13 mill. t.
The main reason for this was the massive slump in pork production by 4.26 mill. t or 29.1% to 10.38 mill. t. According to the Ministry, a total of 131.29 mill. pigs were slaughtered from January to March, which was 57.14 mill. or 30.3% less than in the first quarter of 2019. The current stock level for the end of March was stated at 321.2 mill. animals, so that the number of pigs kept has fallen by a good 54 mill. or 14.4% within twelve months.
However, a restocking of stocks has been observed for some months now. According to official figures, the Chinese pig population has grown by 10.8 mill. animals or 3.5% in the past three months; for sows there has even been an increase of around 3 mill. animals or 10% to 33.8 mill. However, according to the current forecast in the "China Agricultural Outlook Report 2020-2029", a significant increase in Chinese pork imports can be expected in the current year, despite the recent increase in the herd.
These are expected to increase by about one third to 2.8 mill. t compared to 2019. In the following years, however, the import demand is expected to fall again and amount to only 1.2 mill. t in 2029. For 2020, the forecast assumes that Chinese pork production will decline by 7.5% to 39.3 mill. t. In 2022 it is expected to be around 54 mill. t and in ten years almost 60 mill. t. The recently declining per capita consumption of pork is expected to increase from 32 kg to 42 kg in the same period.
With regard to beef production, current Chinese data for the first quarter of 2020 show a decline of 110,000 t or 6.4% to 1.56 mill. t compared to the same period last year. The number of cattle slaughtered fell by 640,000 head to 10.47 mill. animals. However, just as with pigs, according to official statistics, cattle stocks have also recently recovered. The cattle herd as a whole grew by 1.5% to 92.1 mill. head compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
The first three months of this year also saw a downward trend in the volume of sheep meat, which fell by 7.7% to 960,000 t. On the other hand, poultry meat production was the only type of meat to increase, by 1.1% to 5.23 mill. t. Following the reopening of the live poultry market, which was closed for reasons of coronavirus control, a higher growth rate in poultry meat production is expected in the further course of the year.