China’s sow herd shrinks in July, first decline in almost two years

China’s sow herd declined for the first time in nearly two years, contracting 0.5 per cent in July from the previous month, state media said, after a plunge in hog prices pushed many farmers to get rid of unproductive sows.

In year-on-year terms, however, it was still up 25 per cent, according to National Development and Reform Commission spokesman Meng Wei.

Prices have plummeted in recent months amid an abundance of supply due to efforts by the world’s biggest pork producer to rapidly rebuild its breeding herd following a devastating epidemic of African swine fever during 2018 and 2019.

Farmers lost an average 665 yuan (US$102) per head during June, according to Agriculture Ministry data.

An executive at the country’s largest pork processor, WH Group, told reporters last week that the elimination of sows during June had been significant and could push up live hog prices by the second half of 2022.

The culling of low-efficiency sows has improved the structure of the breeding herd and all high-performing sows were retained, state broadcaster CCTV cited an Agriculture Ministry official as saying.

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