Chinese pig farmer Muyuan's losses grow after African swine fever epidemic

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s second-largest pig producer Muyuan Foods said on Monday that first-half losses widened from last year after pig prices fell in the first quarter and costs to prevent its farms being infected with African swine fever rose.

For the first six months of 2019, Muyuan reported a net loss of 155.7 million yuan ($21.95 million) compared with a loss of 78.7 million yuan a year earlier. Revenue rose 29.9% to 7.16 billion yuan from the same period in 2018 after the company added new farms.

Pig prices in the first quarter of 2019 were relatively low, said Muyuan, after panic slaughtering by farmers increased market supplies even as transport bans designed to stop the spread of disease prevented some supplies moving to market.

The company has also continued to upgrade biosecurity on its farms and strengthened management to protect against the spread of African swine fever.

China has reported more than 140 cases of African swine fever across the country since it was first detected a year ago but many more cases go unreported.

Live hog prices began rising nationwide in June, hitting a record this month on a shortage of supplies.

Muyuan sold 5.8 million hogs in the first six months of 2019 compared with 4.7 million in the same period last year.

Muyuan’s shares closed up 2.1% at 71.29 yuan on Monday, before the results were released.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Kirsten Donovan