Booming Business: Pigs Flying to China in 747 Jumbo Jets

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The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on commercial aviation, but Alexey Isaykin’s cargo carrier has been fully loaded.

Volga-Dnepr Group has flown more than 3,000 breeding pigs to China from France this year. The animals — transported 6,450 miles in wooden crates in the hold of a Boeing 747 cargo plane — are being used to restore local livestock levels to help mitigate shortages in the world’s largest pork market after an outbreak of African swine fever decimated China’s hog herds.

Measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus amplified those swine shortages and accelerated attempts to boost the population of domestic herds. China imported a total 254,533 tons of pork in the first four months of the year from the U.S., which overtook Europe to become China’s largest pork supplier. That’s already more than the 245,000 tons China bought for the whole of 2019.

The cargo is a sign of the shifting demand that Isaykin’s company — known for transporting everything from satellites to emergency bridges — is experiencing as the pandemic reshapes his industry.

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