African swine fever pushes Australian pork prices up

Zach RelphCountryman
Prices are baconer pigs in Australia are increasing, according to Mecardo data.
Camera IconPrices are baconer pigs in Australia are increasing, according to Mecardo data.

The ravaging swine virus decimating global pork stocks and reshaping the international protein market is increasing Australian pig prices as reports emerge the disease has spread to another Asian country.

African swine fever, which has no known cure but is not lethal to humans, was detected in South Korea last week, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed.

Five pigs were found dead at a farm in Paju, north-west of Seoul, near the North Korean border.

North Korea first reported an ASF case in late May.

ASF was detected in China in August last year, with analysts tipping the country’s pig herd to be cut in half from more than 400 million head to about 200 million.

After the Chinese outbreak, the deadly swine disease has been confirmed in Myanmar, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, North Korea, Philippines and South Korea leading to the death of about 500 million pigs.

The epidemic has caused Chinese pork prices to skyrocket to about ¥28/kg — or $AU5.82/kg — this month to notch a 89 per cent rise since January 1.

It has also led to an increase in Australian pork value, with baconer pigs trading up to $382 a head this month compared to $236 a head 12 months ago.

Mecardo analyst Andrew Whitelaw said the unprecedented loss of international pork stocks had lifted Australian protein markets, with increased demand for pork, sheepmeat, beef and poultry.

“The volume of pigs killed in Asia is huge and is flowing over to all forms of protein,” he said.

“Pig prices in Australia are increasing, as are lamb and mutton prices.

“Beef exports into China have also gone through the roof.”

Mecardo analysis shows Australian prices for porker pigs, a pig weighing between 40kg and 67kg, have lifted from about $260 a head last year to more than $400.

Australian Pork Limited chief executive Margo Andrae is among pork figures who have been vocal in the industry’s bid to prevent ASF from entering Australia since assuming the role in July.

In Ms Andrae’s column in the Australian Pork Newspaper’s September edition, the pork producing figurehead reaffirmed her stance.

“APL is absolutely focused on preventing African swine fever from reaching our shores,” she said. “And we remain alert to the ongoing risks of other potential biosecurity risks.”

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