China’s swine fever outbreak sets off scrap over pork

Meat prices climb worldwide as importers scramble and consumers switch products

 The outbreak of African swine fever that is ravaging China’s pig farmers is sending shock waves through Asia’s market for imported meat. Importers in the region face a battle with Chinese buyers, while exporters reap a windfall.

The virus that causes ASF has no cure. Although it is harmless to humans, it is highly infectious and deadly to pigs.

China’s latest outbreak struck in August 2018 and rapidly spread to 30 provinces. In January, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs revealed that it has culled 900,000 pigs since the epidemic began.

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Pig processors accused of withholding price increases from farmers

Processors have been accused of ignoring the plight of struggling pig farmers by failing to pass on the full benefit of market improvements in recent price increases.

Although pig prices have lifted by 4c/kg over the last week, the IFA claimed that price hikes of at least 10c/kg were justified following confirmation of significantly tighter global pork supplies due to continuing disease troubles in China.

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Declan O’Brien

China’s unprecedented pig crisis to impact entire world, expert warns

Commodities economist predicts African swine fever will trigger an escalation in meat prices across the globe

In almost 40 years of analysing commodity markets, Arlan Suderman says he has never witnessed an industry-jolting event as dramatic as the contagion spreading across China’s pig farms.

The commodities economist has been warning clients about the impact of African swine fever, which he says is not only under-reported but will spur a restructure of China’s entire farm industry and trigger an escalation in meat prices globally.

Most react in disbelief, Mr Suderman said, but the situation is likely to worsen before it gets better.

full story – Independent

Alfred Cang, Anna Kitanaka, Niu Shuping

Supermarket meat ‘fit to eat’ after 50 days, study finds

Supermarket meat is fit to eat after up to 50 days on the shelf, scientific research has found, as sell-by dates could soon be relaxed.   Advances in food packaging means beef can stay fresh and safe for consumption for up to seven weeks, a report by the  British Meat Processors Association found, as long as it is chilled at 8 degrees C or below. 

Lamb can last 35 days while pork can last 25 days, it found.

This is despite official food safety regulations currently stating that meat must not have a sell-by date more than more than 10 days from the point of manufacture, unless the producer has sought special permission. 

It means thousands of tonnes of meat may be needlessly being thrown in the bin because consumers are being wrongly told it is unsafe to eat. 

Sell-by dates signal when food is no longer safe to eat, unlike best before dates which indicate food quality. Meat which is past its sell by date may cause food poisoning if eaten, even if it smells and looks fit to eat.

full story – The Telegraph

Katie Morley

Tyson Foods sells stake in Beyond Meat amid rising tensions

Tyson Foods has quietly sold its stake in alternative protein company Beyond Meat, which is expected to go public next week at a valuation north of $1 billion.

Tyson had a 6.5% ownership stake in Beyond Meat when the company filed for its IPO last November, having invested a total of $23 million between 2016 and 2017 (via its Tyson Ventures arm). It was still listed on an April 15 amended filing, but not in a subsequent one this past Monday.

Multiple sources tell Axios that tensions had been rising between the two companies, particularly after Tyson CEO Noel White said in February that the poultry giant would develop its own plant-based protein products.

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Dan Primack

Walmart creates Angus beef supply chain, cutting out meat processors

Walmart Inc is taking control of the supply chain for Angus beef sold in some of its stores, cutting out meat processors as the company looks to offer higher quality products in an intensely competitive grocery industry.

The world’s largest retailer said on Wednesday that the move would allow it to ensure supplies of quality Angus beef and meet demands from customers who want to know the origin of their meat.

Normally, Walmart would buy Angus beef from companies like Tyson Foods Inc and Cargill Inc.

full story – Reuters

Tom Polansek

China pork prices could rise 70 per cent this year, with millions of animals facing cull

Pork prices in mainland China may rise by more than 70 per cent year on year to record levels in the second half of 2019 following a drop in hog supplies, Tang Ke, a department director at China’s ministry of agriculture and rural affairs, said.

Chinese farmers have had to cull their pig populations to combat an outbreak of African Swine Fever that began in August last year.

Meanwhile, the share prices of large meat processors in the country have risen thanks to optimism that higher prices will boost their bottom lines, according to Bloomberg analysis.

full story – South China Morning Post

Ryan Swift

‘Forward pricing should be an option for all factory cattle’

A farm lobby group has questioned how processors can put a mechanism in place that allows a form of forward pricing for dairy beef whilst “beef finishers face huge losses this year due to the collapse in beef price”.

The Beef Plan Movement has highlighted the question saying: “If a form of forward pricing can be done for the Twenty20 initiative, surely it can be done for all beef finishers.”

full story – agriland

Breifne O’Brien

7th Irish plant approved to export beef to China

Liffey Meats has become the seventh Irish meat processor to get approval to export to China, it has been confirmed.

The decision follows initial approval last year for six other Irish beef processing plants including: BP Clones; Donegal Meat Processors (Foyle Meats); Slaney Foods International; ABP Nenagh; Kepak Clonee; and Dawn Meats Charleville.

A further tranche of 12 applications from Irish beef processors have also been submitted the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs for approvals. A decision is still awaited on these applications.

full story – Agriland

Claire McCormack

NZ Sheep meat exports affected by Brexit

Ongoing Brexit uncertainty is having a negative impact on New Zealand sheep meat exports, with January export volumes plunging 32% year-on-year, Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Monthly report says.

Global demand and in-market prices in New Zealand’s key export markets remained generally strong and the Chinese market, in particular, continued to perform very well.

However, it was the United Kingdom that was the international market causing the greatest concern, the report said.

Full story – Rural Life

Sally Rae