African swine fever outbreak boosts NZ beef and lamb

The outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) which is sweeping through the Asian pork industry is having a positive spinoff for New Zealand beef and sheep farmers.

Up to 250 million pigs have been slaughtered due to ASF in Asia.

While the disease is not known to affect humans, it can be spread between pigs through contact, product or feed. 

ASB senior rural economist, Nathan Penny said as a result of the cull, Chinese consumers have had to fill the gap by switching to other proteins, including beef and lamb. 

"The gain for beef and sheep farmers is coming in the form of rising farmgate prices," he said.

Senior rural economist Nathan Penny.
Senior rural economist Nathan Penny. Photo credit: Supplied

"Beef prices have picked up and P2 steer prices, for example, look poised this spring to test the $6.00/kg mark," said Penny. 

A producer of New Zealand pork products this week called on imports of pork from countries affected by African Swine Fever to be stopped.

General manager of Wellington-based Harrington's Smallgoods, Angus Black, said imports from affected countries should be stopped to protect and support the New Zealand pork industry and smallgoods producers.

He said New Zealand was still importing pork from countries affected by the virus, while Australia had banned importing pork from countries with ASF.

"The NZ Pork Board estimates the Kiwi pork industry is worth around $750 million a year, and the virus arriving on New Zealand shores could significantly affect local farmers and food producers," he said.

Meanwhile Nathan Penny said lamb prices had now caught up with last year's record pace and look set to rise above $8.00/kg again this spring. 

He said both beef and lamb prices may even test record highs over the spring months.