(LONDON GUARDIAN) About a quarter of the global pig population is expected to die as a result of an epidemic of African swine fever (ASF), according to the intergovernmental organisation responsible for coordinating animal disease control.
In the last year the spread of the disease has taken policymakers by surprise, and has been particularly devastating in China – home to the world’s largest pig population. The disease is also established in other Asian countries such as Vietnam and South Korea, and continues to wreak havoc in eastern Europe, where the current outbreak began in 2014.
Advertisement - story continues below
The severity of the crisis means that global pork prices are rising, spurred largely by the demand from China, where as many as 100m pigs have been lost since ASF broke out there last year. In recent months, China has been granting export approval to foreign meat plants and signing deals around the world at a dizzying rate. US pork sales to China have doubled, while European pork prices have reached a six-year high.