UTRECHT, The Netherlands – According to a new analysis by Rabobank, it will take China until 2025 to stabilize its pork market following the country’s herds being devastated by the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF). 

When the disease was first reported in August 2018, Rabobank said more than 430 million animals contracted ASF. That number is currently estimated at about 200 million pigs. The company’s analysts also predicted that ASF will kill one quarter of the world’s pig population.

The focus for China in the next two years will be on small-scale restocking and large-scale importing before hog production increases in the next five years. Then prices should stabilize and the markets would likely recover. However, the herd is unlikely to return to its 2018 peak, according to Rabobank. 

“Everybody recognizes that China’s pig population has been decimated but it isn’t fully appreciated that the market will take years – probably half a decade – to rebalance due to the huge restocking required and the fact that global imports simply cannot make up the shortfall,” said Chenjun Pan, animal protein senior analyst at Rabobank.

The report also stated that China would not import enough pork to make up for the production shortfall in the coming years, which will cause high global prices and prompt many consumers to change their eating habits.

China’s population will also consume more chilled, frozen and processed meat instead of fresh pork. Plus, Rabobank said poultry consumption will rise to make up about 30 percent of the market by 2025.

“The key point is that even when the market does rebalance, it’s going to be a different meat environment in China,” Pan continued. “Pork will remain the country’s protein of choice, but it will command a much smaller share of consumption as younger consumers lead the charge into poultry. For China, and the global market, this will be the new normal.”