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Global pork production forecast revised downwards as China's ASF recovery stalls

15th Apr 2020 / By Alistair Driver

The USDA's forecast for global pork production has been revised downwards as China takes longer to recover from African swine fever (ASF) than had been expected.

The 2020 global estimate of 94.3 million tonnes is 7% down on the 2019 figure on the back of lower expected output from nations badly affected by ASF, led by China.

The latest estimate is 2% lower than the USDA's previous forecast because Chinese production has been revised downwards by 6%, with the nation still struggling to recover from ASF, AHDB analyst Felicity Rusk said.

The USDA now expects Chinese production in 2020 to be 20% down on 2019, which was itself down 21% from 2018.

USDA forecast Ap 20"It is likely the outbreak of COVID-19 has only slowed progress in this area, based on reports from Rabobank and other agencies," Ms Rusk said.

However, the key exporting nations, including the US (5%), EU (including UK) (1%) and Brazil (4%), are expecting to see growth in production this year.

"Strong export demand from Asian countries has provided producers with the incentive to expand herds. However, this is not enough to compensate for the decline expected in China and other nations affected by ASF," Ms Rusk added.

Import and export estimates

Overall, global import estimates were revised down by 4% from the previous forecast to 9.6 million tonnes, as figures for many other key nations, including Mexico, South Korea, Colombia and the US, have been revised downwards.  

"The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that the foodservice sector has all but closed in many nations. As such, demand from this sector has dissipated, which will have a knock-on effect on import demand. Furthermore, in the longer-term, weaker economic growth is also likely to affect import demand negatively," Ms Rusk added.

However, with lower expectations of Chinese production, imports to China have been revised up by 4% to 3.85 million tonnes, 57% more than in 2019. In January and February alone, China imported twice as much pork and offal than in the same period last year.

Despite this, overall exports were revised up slightly (1%), driven mainly by an upwards revision to US exports, while exports from the EU + UK are expected to rise by 10%.

"This is likely a reflection of the nation capitalising on the expected increased demand from the Chinese market" Ms Rusk added.