African swine fever has decimated a quarter of the world’s pork, could cost the U.S. billions

African swine fever has been present for many decades, but it has been ravaging Asia and Europe recently. Industry leaders are worried about how the U.S. may be affected.

China is home to half of the world’s pig supply and African swine fever does not affect the health of humans, it can decimate a swine herd.

“With African swine fever our best estimates from Chinese data, as well as USDA and folks we got on the ground there, China’s lost roughly half of its pigs in its country. That’s at least a quarter of the worlds pork is no longer available because the pigs are no longer there,” Bill Even, the CEO of the National Pork Board, said.

Even says that a hit like that translates internationally into a call to action.

“We really have, I would say, an opportunity here and some would argue and obligation to be able to provide a nutritious, safe protein in the form of pork to global markets,” he said.

U.S. exports to China are up this year 131 percent in volume and 171 percent in value. Most recently, wild pigs in Germany tested positive for ASF.

“German pork market loss over a billion dollars in value in 24 hours when those international export markets closed, due to African swine fever,” Even said. “Not found in the commercial pork industry, but simply found in some wild pigs in the woods in eastern Germany. There’s an example of the volatility of the markets that we’re in.”

Thirty percent of the U.S. pork supply is exported. Even says that we face the same risks as Germany when it comes to the wild hog herd: “The pork industry slows down, arguably, we’re going to have 30 percent more product here in the United States that we have to chew through, and in a capitalist society like ours, prices will go to market clearing levels and it will not be good.”

He concludes that the result could be as much as $5-6 billion dollars in losses.

ASF in Indonesia.

Record pace for U.S. pork exports this year.

Guarding against ASF.

National Pork Board on ASF.