African Swine Fever spreading in Asia . . .
Fears about the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) are on the rise after Vietnam said it had culled 1.7 million pigs. ASF spreads through live or dead pigs or pork products and is almost always fatal to infected animals. China, the world’s largest pork producer, has been trying to contain outbreaks since last summer. Its reported cases appeared to have dropped in recent months, but observers fear that farmers and local governments are simply under-reporting the problem. The disease could become endemic in parts of Southeast Asia that are not prepared to deal with an outbreak.
Food security and the market . . .
The spread of the disease creates immediate concerns about food security. In Vietnam, pork makes up about 75 per cent of all meat consumption and is an important source of protein. Vietnam’s Minister of Agriculture said it “is the most dangerous and costly of its kind” in the country’s animal husbandry industry. For non-impacted countries, there are market implications. Statistics show that since August, spot wholesale prices for Chicago hog futures have climbed more than 35 per cent.
The view from Canada . . .
The spread of ASF could impact Canada in ways that are profitable or terrifying (or maybe a mix of both). The rise in prices could benefit the country’s pork exporters, but if the disease reaches Canada it could be devastating for those same producers. The Globe & Mail reports that the expected drop in the number of pigs in China may be another reason Canada’s canola industry is taking a hit, since more than half of the canola seed gets turned into animal feed, much of it for pigs.
- Canada Food Inspection Agency: African swine fever – fact sheet
- CBC: What African swine fever means for Canada’s pork industry
- The Economist: Aporkalypse Now