Since African swine fever was confirmed in Germany Sept. 9, additional ASF cases have now been reported in the country – all in wild boars in the eastern state of Brandenburg. The entry of ASF into Germany means that exports of German pork are now confined to the European continent. U.S. Meat Export Federation Economist Erin Borror says that could fuel growth opportunities for U.S. pork, primarily in China.
"ASF remains the key driver for 2020 pork trade and has reasserted itself with the crossing from Poland into Germany. Germany is the major game changer because they're the largest producer of pork in the EU," Borror says. "2020 production should be near 5.2 million metric tons, down just modestly from last year, which was the expectation prior to ASF and I don't really see that changing. We will have the same volume of pork in the world. It's just shifting where it goes."
According to Borror, German pork accounted for about 9% of global pork exports in the first half of this year. Looking at Chinese import data, the country was importing nearly 50,000 tons of pork cuts from Germany each month, and that figure had doubled from last year's pace.
"Germany was 14% of China's imports, so it will be a scramble from everyone looking to substitute in," Borror says.
She says opportunities could also emerge in other Asian markets, but on a more limited basis
"In Korea, Germany was mostly shipping single-ribbed bellies, so we will not see a U.S. substitution there, especially with our limited labor," Borror says. "Japan had already shifted heavily back to the U.S., especially for ground seasoned pork. That was a combination of the leveling of the tariff playing field and U.S. availability. Through July, Japan's imports of U.S. ground seasoned pork were up 27%, about 63,000 tons, and imports from Germany, were down 64% to just 3,200 metric tons."