China’s swine herd is set to fall to 275 million head, representing a decline of almost 40 percent from levels before the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak. Recovery may be slow as producers are reluctant to add new head while potential for further infection remains. Despite concerns, a doubling of the hog price should encourage producers to reinvest in herds and expand production, but probably not until second-half 2020. USDA is also expecting for high prices to temper for demand pork, which remains an element of uncertainty for the U.S. export forecast. Higher feed costs from smaller feed crops (corn, soybeans) in 2019 could also change the economics and jeopardize 2020 meat production.
Global pork production is expected to fall by more than a tenth as AFT led to a sizeable reduction, specifically in Asia. China’s imports of pork may swell by 35 percent next year as a direct result of the precipitous drop in their hog population. The surge in Chinese demand has also brought a surge in prices causing demand in other price-sensitive markets to falter. As with the outlook for U.S. beef, American exports of pork are expected to rise more than a tenth in 2020 on higher slaughter rates and weights to satisfy Chinese demand. While higher Chinese prices are seen driving up U.S. exports, some of this demand could be at risk without a trade deal with China and while import tariffs remain unresolved.