How this new pandemic may affect our livelihood when we depend so much on China
Now that Google has made it clear that coronavirus is not associated with Corona, my favorite beer brand, let’s see more seriously how this non-animal-related disease can affect the animal nutrition industry. It is not as if we did not have our plate already full with African swine fever (ASF), but why complain when we are still not infected by anything more than a thirst for beer (for now).
As it is being discussed, there are two ways the current spread of the coronavirus disease may affect the animal feed industry. First, and most important, is the issue of human traffic. Already, it has been reported that attendance at the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) last week in Atlanta by Chinese professionals was reduced. The other way around is to be expected as major airlines are dropping flights to China. And, where humans don’t go, business stops. So, this will have a long-term impact on exports and imports to and from China. The animal nutrition industry relies on selling to China additives that it cannot (yet) produce, and buying from China additives it can produce (cheaper than the rest of us). So, sales will go down both ways as traveling will cease.
And, this brings us to the second problem: supply of additives. We depend on China for the majority of products we use in animal feeds. Vitamins and amino acids, along with enzymes, are some of the most prominent products we depend on China to provide us so that we continue to feed our animals inexpensively. One question I received, and I have no answer to, is how long should one load of Chinese imports take to be cleared of the virus? I welcome any doctor of veterinary medicine with knowledge on this type of virus to leave a comment.
Others have inquired if Europe and U.S. produce enough additives to cover local demand. Here, the answer is simple: no, or otherwise we would not have this conversation. So, apart from humans getting into quarantine zones, there is the possibility we will see products getting the same treatment. Everything is still in the panic zone where logic and reason are not prevailing.
One thing is for sure: Those who depend on China for their living, one way or another, will see a dip in their profit line. This is a side effect of globalization. In the end, like anything in agriculture, one must take a much longer perspective in evaluating everything and not count beans only in the good years.