Chinese African Swine fever epidemic could open the door to more dairy imports

Published 30 April 19

With the African Swine Fever epidemic sweeping through the Chinese pig population, it is speculated that the nation may cull up to 200 million pigs to curb the spread of the disease. Tight domestic supplies have led to strengthening pork prices, which has resulted in consumers looking towards other sources of protein.

Increased demand for beef is likely to strengthen prices, and provide an incentive for dairy producers to increase culling. The number of dairy cows in China has shrunk over the last couple of years as smaller producers are leaving the industry at a faster rate than larger-scale producers are expanding their herds. 

Further declines in the herd would restrain growth in milk production, increasing China’s reliance on imports. In 2018, China imported 2.3 million tonnes of dairy products, the equivalent to around 10% of the dairy products produced in the EU last year. Although only 1% of China’s dairy imports last year were sourced from the UK. An increase in demand from China will help support global dairy prices and may provide further export opportunities for UK companies.