China’s hog production capacity will likely bottom this year and then rebound to normal pig numbers in 2020, forecasts Yang Zhenhai, director of the husbandry and veterinary bureau of China's ag ministry. African swine fever decimated the country’s herd, with China officially reporting numbers down 40% and analysts saying that figure is more likely in the 50% range.
Yang explains that policies and market factors have boosted confidence in pig farming and “enthusiasm for production among small and big farmers is further improving.” He says production at farms slaughtering more than 5,000 pigs per year have recovered rapidly, with inventories up 0.6% from August to September to 44.46 million animals.
He also notes that production and sales of pig feed are rebounding, with feed output up 10% in September.
Most analysts believe Yang’s forecast is overly optimistic, especially considering no vaccine for ASF is available. “If the disease can stabilize and doesn't reoccur, stocks might start to recover," noted an unnamed analyst with a Chinese consultancy cited by Reuters, but even then, they would not reach normal levels until at least the second half of 2020.
Pan Chenjun, a senior analyst at Rabobank, expects the herd to continue to drop in the first half of 2020. She notes that companies who have restocked farms have seen it reoccur and many small farms lack the capital or will to rebuild their herds. Further, it takes around 18 months to build, stock and produce pits at a new farm, pan continues.