BEIJING (Reuters) - China produced 31.81 million tonnes of pork in the first nine months of 2019, down 17.2% from the same period last year, official data showed on Friday, after African swine fever devastated its hog herd.
Output fell as the size of the herd declined 28.5% from a year earlier to 306.75 million head as of the end of September, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
That was down 11.76% from the 347.61 million head it reported for the end of the first half of the year. The number of slaughtered hogs over the first nine months of the year fell 17.3% to 409.78 million head.
African swine fever, an incurable virus that kills pigs but does not harm humans, has swept through China’s hog herd, the world’s largest, since August 2018.
The decline in pork output is less than expected, with agriculture ministry data this week showing the hog herd has shrunk by 41% year-on-year, much more than the statistics bureau’s estimate of 28.5%.
Rabobank expects China’s pork production to fall by 25% this year, and a further 10% to 15% in 2020.
Agriculture ministry data shows the size of the herd has fallen for 11 consecutive months, or since October last year.
Some analysts and industry participants say the decline is even larger than the 41% estimated by the agriculture ministry.
Total meat output including pork, beef, lamb and poultry fell 8.3% in the first nine months to 55.08 million tonnes, the NBS data also showed.
China’s food prices have soared thanks to a sharp increase in pork values. Retail pork prices were up 84% from a year earlier at 43.4 yuan per kg in the week ended Oct. 2, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Tom Hogue