Another outbreak of swine fever in Germany: exports continue to shrink, big buyer China is still difficult to recover
Recently, African swine fever has spread to the state with the most concentrated pig farming industry in Germany. Major buyers such as China may maintain import bans in the next few years, causing a serious blow to the German pig farming industry.
The German Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement on July 2 saying that African swine fever was detected on farms in Lower Saxony in the northwest and Brandenburg in the east, two of the largest pig-raising states in Germany.
Lower Saxony is Germany's largest pig farm with around 6.4 million pigs and piglets, according to the German National Statistics Office.
The outbreak of swine fever on a farm in the Emsland county of Lower Saxony is the first case in the northwest region. African swine fever was first detected in eastern Germany in September 2020, and the source was a wild boar. Germany has been battling an African swine fever outbreak since then.
Although the government has been trying to keep swine fever under control in the east, the growing number of wild boars that can roam freely in Germany means that the spread of swine fever is to be expected.
About 4,000 cases of African swine fever have been confirmed in wild boars in Germany, mainly in eastern Germany.
All public information shows that although African swine fever is not harmful to humans, for pigs, the lethality and infectivity of African swine fever are devastating.
Returning to China will be a long road
The swine fever in 2020 caused China to issue a "banning order" on German pork. The loss of China, a major customer, has taken a major hit for German pig producers, which means the trade with annual revenue of about 1 billion euros ($1.04 billion) has been wiped out.
Not only China, but also South Korea, Japan and some major pork importing countries have followed suit and banned the import of German pork. Germany's main rival in the EU, Spain, has received a large number of new trade orders in Asia following the introduction of these import bans.
Germany has been the EU's biggest pork producer for years, but Spain exported more pork last year than Germany after losing China, the world's biggest pork importer.
"It is clear that China's demand for pork imports from Europe has decreased, and the reopening of the Chinese market for German pork may take years," said Tim Koch, meat products analyst at German market consultancy AMI.
The industry predicts that if African swine fever continues to occur in Germany, China, a major customer, will not be able to recover in the short term, and the German pig industry is expected to shrink further.
Neighboring countries' concerns
The German outbreak has also heightened fears that swine fever could spread to neighboring countries.
"This is very scary news, and people had hoped that African swine fever was only in eastern Germany and that it was under control, and now those hopes are completely dashed," said Justin Sherrard, global strategist at Rabobank.
The swine fever has moved from eastern Germany to the northwest within a year and a half.
Sherrard pointed out that if African swine fever can cross 500 kilometers from eastern Germany to the northwest, it is likely to transfer to Germany's neighboring Netherlands and France, and the large pork industry will suffer a major impact.