AHDB has issued a plea to the public to help stop the spread of African swine fever (ASF) as the disease continues to devastate the Chinese breeding herd and spreads across Europe.
In a letter sent to newspaper editors, AHDB senior strategy director Angela Christison said largescale farmers and smallholders were working hard and praying the crisis never hits.
Ms Christison said: “Commonly, outbreaks have been attributed to feeding pigs infected food. For this good reason, in the UK it is illegal to feed any kitchen scraps to pigs.”
However, she warned wild boar could gain access to leftover food by the discarding of imported processed pork meat products.
She added if ASF arrived in the UK, farmers would experience pig movement restrictions similar to those when foot-and-mouth struck, along with emotional turmoil and the distressing images of herds being culled.
But the situation in China could provide a boost for prices.
Analysts said losses had ‘eclipsed’ initial estimates.
Rabobank RaboResearch senior analyst – animal protein, Christine McCracken, said the loss in pork production was ‘unprecedented’, expected to be 25-30 per cent in 2019.
She said: “These losses cannot easily be replaced by other proteins such as chicken, duck and seafood, nor will larger imports be able to fully offset the loss.”
Breeding herd losses will delay recovery with the disease also spreading to neighbouring countries.
She added it would create opportunities for companies with exportable surpluses and access to the Chinese and Asian markets.
Informa Agribusiness Intelligence revealed pork prices in the US and Western Europe were expected to increase by more than 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.
Production in Western Europe was expected to increase by 5 per cent. Despite the spread of the disease in Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe could benefit from increasing import demands with exports predicted to increase by 10 to 15 per cent.
David Williams, director of global proteins for Informa Agribusiness Intelligence, said ASF had brought huge dynamic change to pork markets with China needing imports.
While on a national level the restrictions were leading to panic selling and falling prices. Elsewhere prices were boosted by shortages.
Mr Williams said: “If the disease is kept out of major producers such as Germany, Denmark and Spain, Western Europe in particular can expect to profit from a likely increase in Chinese import demand.”