Meat processors around the world are selling more pork to China to make up for the shortage caused by an outbreak of African swine fever.
Barbecue, sausage and German sausage may be more expensive in the coming months, as pork prices will rise as a result of a virus that is wiping out China's pig industry.
Meat processors around the world are selling more pork to China to make up for the shortage caused by an outbreak of African swine fever. The consequence is a tighter offer in the US and Europe, which is driving up prices. The trend is set to continue as the disease spreads rapidly throughout China, the world's largest producer and consumer.
Retail prices in the United States for boneless hams reached $ 4.31 a pound in March, the highest since 2015, according to data from the Department of Agriculture. In the European Union, wholesale prices for pigs increased by 16% in two months.
In China, the effect is more severe. Pork prices in the country may rise more than 70 percent in the second half of this year, a Agriculture Ministry official said this week.
Ham prices rise as China's swine disease rivals swine market
"Part of the meat that used to go to the United States now goes to China because it pays more," Jens Munk Ebbesen, director of food safety and veterinary affairs at the Danish Food and Agriculture Council, said by telephone.
The disease, already affecting the Chinese meat industry, will have far-reaching effects ranging from rising food prices to increasing demand for other meats such as chicken and beef. Swine production in the country may fall 30% this year, according to a report by Rabobank International.
The deadly African virus that is killing Asian pigs: QuickTake
China recently made the biggest weekly buying of pork in the US and shares of JBS SA, the world's largest beef producer in sales, rebounded 8 percent this week.
"African swine fever has caused a recovery in the world's protein reserves, but it is not too late to buy," Morgan Stanley analysts, led by Rafael Shin, said in a report to clients this week. "We believe that the high has only begun and that the long-term impacts of the ASF have not yet been understood."
The additional demand will likely benefit farmers, who can sell their pigs at higher prices. Farmers can begin to raise more cattle, but the process takes time.
"It will be a good time for producers," said Didier Delzescaux, director of the French Pork Board Inaporc.
Not only is China struggling against the spread of the disease. In Europe, there is concern that the virus, detected in wild pigs in Belgium last year, could infect domestic pigs in major exporters such as France and Germany. France is in the process of building a fence that travels tens of miles near the border in an effort to contain the disease.