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China's soybean demand seen bullish on robust hog herd recovery from ASF

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China's soybean demand seen bullish on robust hog herd recovery from ASF

Highlights

Hog herd 416 million heads March 31 vs 406 million Dec 31

Sow herd grew 28% on year to 43 million heads

New Delhi — China's soybean demand is seen bullish on robust hog herd recovery from the African swine fever epidemic, market sources told S&P Global Platts April 19.

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With the hog herd recovery on a swifter-than-expected curve, China's soybean demand has also been projected to hit record highs.

According to S&P Global Platts Analytics, the world's largest soybean purchaser is expected to import record volumes of the oilseed in 2020-21 (October-September) at 100 million mt.

The world's second largest economy is heavily dependent on soybean purchases as it processes over 80% of imported beans into animal feed.

China's hog producing capacity continued to grow in the first quarter of 2021 as the hog herd is seen at 416 million head by March 31, up 2.3% on the quarter and 29.5% higher on the year, the National Bureau of Statistics said April 16.

China's sow herd also posted strong recovery numbers as it grew 28% year on year to 43.18 million, NBS said.

As a result, China's hog herd and breeding sow herd have recovered to 94.2% and 97.0% respectively, compared with pre-ASF level of 2017.

ASF IN CHINA

There have been reports of ASF outbreaks across some parts of western and northern China since January, but these are only isolated incidents, unlike the 2018 and 2019 outbreaks, when almost all of Southeast Asia was affected.

As soon as the latest ASF virus strains of the January outbreak were discovered, hundreds of pigs were culled as a preventive step, reducing the chances of contagion.

"Although the latest outbreak is not a serious issue in China at the moment, we need to watch how this develops in coming days because the resurgence of the epidemic in China will affect market sentiment badly, particularly when the swine production capacity has not yet recovered completely," Shanghai-based agricultural consultancy JCI China said previously.

Since late 2019, China has been quick to implement strict quarantine measures whenever an ASF outbreak is discovered.

According to China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, six ASF outbreaks were reported in China in 2020, with the last having occurred in October. All the six outbreaks were dealt with quick quarantine measures and stricter inter-provincial transportation policies, MARA said.

The ASF first emerged in China in August 2018, which resulted in the loss of over 50% of its swine population. Following large-scale quarantine measures, over 200 million pigs were culled that year, leading to a massive shortage of pork in the country and record pork prices.

China's pig farming sector has experienced a rapid consolidation since late 2019 as small-scale farms were amalgamated into big entities under a government directive and over $30 billion invested in the consolidation, a Beijing-based consultancy said.