African Swine Fever and the impact on dairy markets
As the world’s largest pork producer China accounts for around 50% of pork production globally. The current African Swine Fever epidemic is expected to reduce China’s pork production by 25-35% according to Rabobank, resulting in increased demand for other animal proteins but decreased demand for feedstuffs.
Producers are trying to meet the requirements for protein with an increase in production of other protein sources. The National Bureau of Statistics reporting that beef gained 1.7%, lamb 1.4% and poultry 2.1% in the first quarter of 2019. The sheer scale of the reduction in pork production however, means these increases are not large enough to fill the gap.
The effect of consumers increased demand for other meats is being seen in higher domestic beef and poultry prices in China. Wholesale prices for beef and chicken increased by 9% and 17.4%, respectively, between August 2018 and the end of February this year, according to IQC Insights.
Rabobank has suggested that higher beef prices, supported by the rising demand for beef, could accelerate dairy cow culling, and help fill some of the gap in animal protein supply. However, beef prices have been well supported over the last few years and the cost may affect the number of consumers that ‘trade up’.
If dairy cow culling did increase, it could restrain China’s milk production growth during the year, lifting demand for dairy product imports. Currently this doesn’t appear to be the case as China’s milk production is up 5.4% (Jan-Apr 2019) year on year.
Offsetting any rise in import demand for dairy products will be a drop in China’s imports for feed products such as whey permeates. In the first quarter of 2019, whey powder imports were down 16%, which is having a negative impact on the global price of whey permeates.