Even with two offices in China and U.S. Meat Export Federation staff out on the road continuously trying to get the latest information on African swine fever’s impact on pork production there, Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, says accurate data is hard to come by.
“As I’ve said many times, it’s very difficult to get information because the latest statistics show there are still 25 million hog producers in China,” Haggard says, “so what we’re concentrating on is really trying to look at the import side. That’s a bit more transparent because we have the statistics, although delayed. We’re also trying to find any tidbits on what’s happening on the consumption side.”
Haggard spoke Friday during a panel discussion on ASF at the closing business session of the USMEF Spring Conference and Board of Directors Meeting in Kansas City. While the anticipated “hole” in China’s pork production has not yet generated a surge in imports, Haggard says a significant increase is expected to come soon.
“What happens on the import side will depend on the production minus the consumption impact,” Haggard says. “I would think over time consumers would get used to gradual price rises, but in the short term if prices really spiked up we will see some people turn away from pork because of prices not because of African swine fever concerns.”
Vietnam, on the other hand, has had a much more notable drop in pork production since ASF broke there, Haggard says.
“Vietnam has had a very severe consumption response. I think it is a spike down and possibly a slow return up on that consumption but we will just have to see,” Haggard says. “A much higher percentage of consumers in Vietnam buy fresh pork.”
When ASF broke, figures from Ho Chi Minh City showed a 50% drop in pork movement through their wholesale markets in that southern region, Haggard says.
“There is no such survey that I have seen yet measuring the consumption impact on a national scale, but it’s certainly been a sharp drop and that’s led to a quick decline in hog prices,” Haggard says.
The ASF panel discussion marked the conclusion of the USMEF Spring Conference and Board of Directors Meeting. The federation’s next meeting is its annual strategic planning conference, set for Nov. 6-8 in Tucson, Ariz.