China's pork production is reportedly growing faster than expected

China's pork production rose 18% year over year to 8.4 million tons in the third quarter. This emerges from Reuters calculations, which are based on official data and indicate the first signs of a recovery of the world's leading producer.
It was the first quarter since July-September 2018 that pork production increased year over year after an African swine fever epidemic hit the country's swine herd and production fell. The terminal disease hit China's pig farms in August 2018, reducing the breeding population by an estimated 60% by the end of last year. Pork production fell to a 16-year low of 42.6 million tons in 2019 and is expected to shrink another 20% this year, according to Rabobank.
However, production in the first nine months of 2020 only fell 10.8% year over year to 28.38 million tons, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday. "That's more than expected," said Pan Chenjun, a senior analyst at Rabobank, of the amount of pork produced.
Given that pork prices are still much higher than they were before ASF emerged, Rabobank had expected a bigger drop.
The strong increase in the third quarter is also due to a particularly weak comparative quarter in 2019, in which production fell by 42% year-on-year to only 7 million tons, as the worst effects of swine fever became clear at that time.
Other analysts also questioned the data showing that the number of breeding sows rose 28% to 38.22 million head, which is close to pre-swine fever levels.
The number of pigs slaughtered fell 11.7% to 361.86 million in the first nine months, the data also showed.
Xiong Kuan, an analyst at Cofco Futures, said in a statement last week that fewer than 24 million pigs would be slaughtered this month, an 8% increase from September but still well below typical monthly needs 45 million.

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