New Zealand's $750 million-a-year pork industry has increased the pressure on the Government to take Australia's lead and restrict the importation of pork from countries affected by the virulent African swine fever (ASF), which has been dubbed a "pig Ebola".
The rapid spread of the disease, which is not known to affect humans, is already having an impact on the global food chain and is expected to lead to higher prices for meat protein, according to international wire service Bloomberg.
Industry group New Zealand Pork said concern was rising that the disease could land here after Poland – one of the major sources of imported pork - notified international authorities about an outbreak in its domestic herd.
Poland - which has been battling ASF since 2014 - last month confirmed that it had detected ASF in a farm with 8000 pigs close to the border of Belarus.
NZ Pork said it appeared countries struggling with ASF outbreaks may be targeting the New Zealand market to continue to sell their product.
"We're very concerned that pork from ASF-infected countries is being accepted by the New Zealand market, now that other countries are refusing to take their products," general manager David Baines said.
"This is putting our industry at higher risk of exposure to a disease that can live almost indefinitely in frozen pork, and can be passed to the local pig herd through the feeding of untreated meat," he said.
NZ Pork said New Zealand should follow Australia's lead, and restrict all imports from ASF-infected countries.
A spokesman for the Ministry for Primary Industries, in a supplied statement, said it was actively monitoring the ASF situation overseas, including Poland.
"We are taking the threat from ASF extremely seriously," the spokesman said.
Dual cropping a 'huge breakthrough' in hemp farming
Southeast Asia sick of taking the West's 'foreign garbage'
New Zealand does not import live pigs and commercial pork products can be imported into New Zealand only if they meet strict import conditions.
"We have confidence in the measures we have in place to keep African swine fever out of New Zealand," the spokesman said.
New Zealand's main trading partners, including the United States and the rest of the European Union, are still accepting pork from Poland, in line with World Trade Organisation rules.
"It is also important to note that, to date, the legal trade of pig meat has not been linked to the spread of African swine fever," the spokesman said.
There are 100 commercial pig farms in New Zealand but it is estimated that pigs are kept on at least 5500 properties outside the commercial industry.
ASF has been prevalent in Africa for some years but turned up in Europe in 2007 - starting in Russia before spreading to other parts of the continent.
The disease has already spread to China - the world's biggest consumer and producer - and to neighbouring Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia.
Some reports have suggested China - the world's biggest producer and consumer - has already culled 30 per cent of its production.
About 40 per cent of New Zealand's domestic consumption is met by domestic producers and 60 per cent by imports.
Baines said there was 25 per cent lift in imported pork prices between April and May.
"When the next contract round of products comes up, we expect to see a 50 per cent increase - if indeed product can be sourced at all," he said.
Bloomberg reported the arrival of ASF in China was sending shockwaves through the global food chain.
While official estimates count 1 million culled hogs, slaughter data suggests 100 times more will be removed from China's 440 million-strong swine herd this year.
The US Department of Agriculture forecast in April a decline of 134 million head - and the worst slump since the department began monitoring the industry in China in the mid-1970s.
"This is an unprecedented situation," Arlan Suderman, chief economist for INTL FCStone Inc, told Bloomberg.
"This will impact food prices globally."