African swine fever (ASF) is now widespread across China and has the potential to substantially shift Asian meat trade says Blake Holgate.
Rabobank's animal proteins analyst spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay about how ASF could impact importers and exporters according to the bank's latest global Beef Quarterly report.
Significantly lower Chinese pork production was set to leave a supply gap, which would need to be filled by other meats, and New Zealand beef exporters were well positioned to take advantage, said Holgate.
"[ASF] does mean consumers in China are eating less pork and more beef, and there's also a general protein supply gap domestically that needs to be filled by the exporters."
The report said the Chinese government undertook a number of measures to combat ASF's spread, following the outbreak of the disease in August last year.
This included the strengthening of border controls, with one possible vector for spreading ASF suspected to be the unofficial trade of goods.
"Beef has been going in to Hong Kong and Vietnam and then ... smuggled into China - they've really cracked down on that."
Holgate said this action at the border was suspected to have led to the recent dramatic fall in unofficial meat trade.
Stringent policing of China's borders is expected to continue through the first half of 2019, which will create further export opportunities for beef exporters like New Zealand, who solely operate through official channels, said Holgate.
Also in today's interview: Holgate comments on the expected fall in lamb prices
Read Rabobank's Beef Quarterly Report Q1 2019 below: