China lowers corn consumption forecast

China lowers corn consumption forecast

Shrinking pig herd resulting from African swine fever leads to less demand for corn for animal feed.

China’s agriculture ministry has lowered its forecast on corn consumption, citing the outbreaks of African swine fever that have devastated the country throughout the past year.

The country’s corn consumption forecast for the 2019-20 crop year was lowered from last month by 2 million tons, due to the decimation of its pig herd, which has resulted in less demand for animal feed.

Conflicting reports on pig losses

There are conflicting reports on just how much of China’s pig herd has been lost to ASF in the past year.

A recent report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said almost 5 million pigs in Asia have now died or been culled because of the disease, which spreads quickly, has no cure and is nearly 100% fatal. The latest data provided by FAO indicates that losses represent more than 10% of the total pig population in each of China, Vietnam and Mongolia.

About one-quarter of the Chinese pig population has been lost to ASF, according to official data, and up to half the country’s breeding sows, reports South China Morning Post. Another report from Rabobank in July estimates that China has lost about 40% of its pig herd to the disease since July 2018, with losses expected to reach 50% by the end of 2019. Some parts of China, according to Rabobank, have seen losses within range of 60% since the outbreak began.

In China, there are at least 26 million pig farming producers, and about 50% of total pork production is by small-scale farmers, FAO said.

Less corn planted

China’s farmers are reported to be planting less corn and opting instead for soybeans to fill part of the supply gap created by the trade war between China and the U.S. The corn crop is estimated to have been cut by 920,000 tons to 253 million tons.

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.