African Swine Fever: A Global Update – Covid-19 Overshadows ASF, but ASF’s Influence Prevails

African swine fever remains the dominant issue in global animal protein – as it has been since 2018. But Covid-19 further distorts the outlook, constraining production, consumption, and trade.

Report Summary

ASF is still the major influence on global pork markets, and it continues to impact pig herds and restrict pork production in China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and parts of eastern Europe. As we do not anticipate an effective vaccine against ASF to be commercially available in 2020, biosecurity measures remain the most effective defense.

Herd recovery is underway in China, and has been proceeding faster than expected, but a further significant drop in pork production is expected in 2020. The ASF situation is stabilizing in Vietnam, but further reductions in 2020 production are expected. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the disease continues to spread. As such, China and Southeast Asia will continue to increase pork imports, with the expectation that China’s pork imports will reach record levels.

However, the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic add further complications to the outlook. While we had expected pork production to increase in North America, Brazil, and some parts of Europe in 2020, the impact of Covid-19 means that we now expect constraints in all major producing countries. We also expect Covid-19 to impact pork consumption, largely via the reduction in foodservice channel operations. The reduction in consumption will not, in our view, make up for reduced production, resulting in relatively tight pork markets.

According to Justin Sherrard, RaboResearch Animal Protein Strategist, “The main uncertainties we see in global pork markets, associated with ASF and influenced by Covid-19, are: the loss of production associated with processing plant closures and slowing of operations; the possibility that ongoing geopolitical tensions between the US and China will affect pork trade; and the risk of an ASF outbreak in a major producing country in Europe, such as Germany.”