Has Japan’s hog industry finally shaken off the worst effects of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) outbreak of 2013? The Foreign Agricultural Service/Tokyo thinks so, as sow stocks recover to levels not seen in recent years, according to the August USDA FAS Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.
Beginning sow stocks in 2019 were recorded at 853,100 head, the highest level since 2015 and up 4% from the previous year according to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.
“It has taken Japan a long time to recover from the PEDv outbreak, largely because the sharp losses incurred during the peak infection period in late 2014 pushed many small and medium-sized operators to exit the industry rather than rebuild herds,” the report said. “Between 2014 and 2019, the total number of hog farms dropped 18% from 5,270 to 4,320 farms, reducing the hog population 4% from 9.537 to 9.156 million head.”
Experts say the growth in the sow herd is mostly due to larger pig farmers expanding operations to offset the decline of the small and medium-sized farms.
Over the years, sustained demand has held carcass prices high enough to incentivize producers to make the necessary investments to reinvest in their sow herds. Japan’s sow stocks are estimated to continue modest expansion in 2020, pushing piglet production to a five-year high, the report says.