Vietnam is at risk of a 500,000 ton shortage of the meat most of its citizens rely on for daily protein between now and the Lunar New Year in January as African swine fever ravages the nation’s hog herd, according to Ipsos Business Consulting.
“The pork supply has become scarce,” said Nguyen Tat Thang, general secretary of the Vietnam Animal Husbandry Association. “Vietnam’s pork imports jumped 5- to 7-fold in the first half of the year and will rise more through the end of the year.”
It’s unclear, though, if pork producers from markets such as the U.S. and Europe will be able to plug a significant portion of the shortage, valued at about $1.29 billion, said Phong Quach, the country head of Ipsos Business Consulting. The Vietnamese prefer fresh meat, which is purchased at traditional wet markets, while most imported meat is frozen, he said. Facilities for storing, defrosting, cutting and packaging massive amounts of pork to meet daily consumption and buying habits, and a system to distribute the meat to local markets beyond large supermarkets in major cities, would be needed, Phong added.
The pork shortage is adding pressure to the government’s efforts to keep inflationbelow 4% this year. About 70% of all meat consumed last year in Vietnam was pork, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
So far about 5 million pigs have been culled across Vietnam — equal to 20% of the nation’s hog herd — since the disease was first reported in two northern provinces at the start of February, Thang said. Disease control efforts have so far failed to prevent the transmission of the virus, which has re-emerged in some provinces that previously had been declared free of swine fever, he said.
“I am very concerned about the looming lack of pork supply as all the sows in the affected farms were culled or sold due to the swine fever virus,” said Nguyen Kim Doan, deputy head of the animal husbandry association in Dong Nai province. The province, known as the country’s “pig capital,” has seen more than 30% of its pig pollution culled. “It is very dangerous to produce new pigs as the virus has emerged everywhere across Vietnam,” he said.
Consumers are likely to start experiencing the pork shortage at the end of October, according to Doan. Adding to the problem is the willingness of some buyers to acquire Vietnamese pigs at premium prices for exports to China, which is also experiencing a severe pork shortage, he said.
— By Mai Ngoc Chau, With assistance by Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen @ Bloomberg