China’s agriculture ministry reported on Thursday that the world’s largest pig herd is now 32.2% smaller year-on-year due to the devastating impact of African swine fever (ASF), while the sow herd is 31.9% smaller.
“It’s amazing how adding a decimal point makes the numbers look more authentic, while understating the severity of the problem,” said Arlan Suderman of INTL FCStone Financial, Inc.
The declines in both pig and sow numbers last month are significantly steeper than in June data, when the pig herd shrank by 25.8% and sow numbers fell 26.7%, Reuters reported.
Suderman’s sources on the ground in China claim the losses are closer to 45% year-on-year, and they may be even higher than that.
Some large operations have restocked after attempting to disinfect their facilities, he said. Unfortunately, the disease struck again and he knows of three that have lost their herd for the second time.
“China’s story throughout this year has been that it has ASF under control and that restocking is already underway. Yet this disease continues to spread, and the losses continue to mount,” Suderman said.
Although the ASF situation in China is playing out like he expected, Suderman said the exception is the amount of China’s frozen reserves.
“China’s frozen reserves have been larger than we expected, delaying the anticipated expansion of major imports,” he said. “Yet, they still appear to be coming.”
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