Kiwis set to face pork price hike as African swine fever sweeps through pig herds

The cost of a Christmas ham could rise 50 percent this year, as African swine fever sweeps through international pig herds.

China, which produces half of the world's pork, has culled more than 200 million diseased pigs, leaving a major gap in the market.

The disease is ravaging pig populations in Europe and Asia, and threatening to drive up prices for Kiwi consumers even further.

"The price that we've heard so far is an increase of 25 percent - and that's just at this stage," NZ Pork general manager David Baines said.

Newshub has seen a letter from a major supplier warning pork prices could jump 50 per cent

New Zealand will have less product available to purchase - and the product that is available will be more expensive," Baines said.

The disease cannot be passed to humans, but it's an incurable disease for pigs so the only option is culling. Farmers here are on high alert.

"It's a significant risk to our industry if the disease comes into New Zealand - which could decimate the industry," commercial pig farmer Jason Palmer said.

That industry is worth around NZ$750m to New Zealand's economy.

But the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says safeguards are in place.

"The only products that possibly have been exposed to this virus is meat that has been highly processed - so it's been heat treated or its been canned," said MPI director of animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell. "That kills the virus."

Australia has had several close calls; stopping illegal, infected pork at the border:

"We are extremely confident that the measures that we've got in place to manage the risk associated with African Swine Fever," Dr Rodwell said.

And while consumers in New Zealand will pay the price, farmers here could at least benefit from higher prices.