How does one of the world’s biggest pork firms go bust during a boom?
How does one of the largest pork companies in the US go out of business at the height of a crazy global pork boom? And what does this tell us about pig farming today? The answer to that question starts where most of the world’s pigs end up, in China.
China produces and consumes almost half the world’s pork. But when African swine fever was detected in the Chinese pig herd in August 2018, it led to millions of hogs being culled in an attempt to control the spread. The drop in China’s pork production has been precipitous. Since 2018, swine populations have fallen to levels not seen since the 1990s, eliminating decades of growth.
And so the huge magnetic pull of the Chinese market has only grown. A kilogram of pork that fetches about $3.30 in the US wholesale market is worth nearly $7 in China, creating huge incentives for processors to send pork abroad.