Friday, February 11, 2022

China's Hog Feed Output Explodes

China's feed output rose 10.4 percent in 2021 to reach 293 million metric tons (mmt), according to data released by the country's feed industry association.  That was the second year of increased feed output, corresponding to the rebuilding of China's swine herd from the African swine fever (ASF) epidemic that wiped out millions of pigs during 2018-19. 

Source: China Feed Industry Association and China National Bureau of Statistics.

The 40.68-mmt increase in feed production during 2021 was, by far, the largest single-year increase in output reported by the association since it began counting feed output in the 1980s. The 2020 increase of 23.9 mmt had previously been the largest-ever increase in feed output. The largest-ever decrease in feed output of -8.78 mmt came during the worst year of the ASF crisis in 2019.

Swine feed accounted for all the increase in manufactured feed output in 2021. Feed for poultry meat went down slightly last year. The feed data indicate a brief poultry boom during the pork shortage came to an end in 2021. Feed for laying hens was relatively stagnant, according to the feed industry association.

Data from China Feed Industry Association.

Data from China Feed Industry Association.

The recovery of swine feed output is much stronger than the recovery of pork output. Feed produced for swine increased 41.5 mmt while production of pork rose 11.8 mmt--a ratio of nearly 4:1. The boom in feed output corresponds to the aggressive expansion of large hog-producing companies, all of whom own large feed mills. They are probably replacing backyard farms that fed pigs cheap low-value fodder and restaurant waste or milled their own feed. The big companies--which include several of the biggest feed-manufacturing companies in the world--are also probably more likely to report their numbers to the feed industry association. 

Data from China Feed Industry Association and China National Bureau of Statistics.

The feed boom has set off alarm bells in China's agriculture ministry. Last year, agricultural officials issued guidelines calling for feed companies to find substitutes for corn and soybean meal in animal feed. The feed industry association's report dutifully claims that the volume of corn used in feed declined 24.9 percent in 2021 as corn's proportion in feed formulations was reduced 15.3 percentage points. Mills increased their use of substitutes for corn that include wheat, rice, sorghum, barley, wheat bran, and rice bran. 

Use of soybean meal increased 5.7 percent, which the association pointed out is slower than the rate of growth in feed output. The proportion of soybean meal used in feed declined 1.4 percentage points, the association said. Use of other oilseed meals, including rapeseed and cottonseed meal, increased 17.9 percent. 

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