I still think the world is not yet aware of the damage that one virus is doing to the world's protein supply
China’s hog herd withers in the face of African Swine Fever, and it spreads like dominos to neighbouring countries. The global herd is at risk.
While China still estimates somewhere between a 15 and 26 per cent decline in the national herd, private analysts like Rabobank are now saying it is closer to 50 per cent.
Rabobank predicts pork production in China will be down by 25 per cent this year; some of that pork is herds being culled to try to stop the spread of the disease.
Rabobank is usually accurate.
Next year it predicts production will be down by another 10 to 15 per cent and that rebuilding China’s hog population will take more than five years.
China was the world’s largest pork producer with an estimated 360 million pigs at the end of last year.
One pig in the wrong place is more than enough, so it is hard to conceptualize what a loss of 180 million pigs really means.
180 million hogs, if each was a market hog and about a yard in length, would make a pig chain marching almost halfway to the moon.
Or it would snake the earth four times.
Someone asked me a while back if this is an environmental crisis, with so many dead pigs to be dealt with, and I said I thought not, since had the pigs lived, they would be eaten and worked back into the environment in the normal way. So what is the difference?
The social and economic costs are far more profound. The second coming of fake meat is getting all the headlines these days, while the loss of millions of tonnes of pork is far more profound and much less reported.
The stock markets of the world argue about bear and bull indicators, but I suspect this one is going to be lead by hogs. Missing hogs.
Meat is tangible and real, but mundane and overlooked. The effect of this is still to come.