The situation unfolding around the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in China and elsewhere in Asia and Europe may change our world.

Although the disease emerged in the country in August 2018, it is now widespread in China and devastating the world’s largest swine herd. Our counterparts in the U.S. pork industry are on high alert – for good reason – but the disastrous situation in Asia could be a serious, long-term boon for the U.S. chicken and turkey industries.

Fortuitous timing

In the June 2019 issue of WATT PoultryUSA, you’ll read how a number of analysts and economists say the disease situation will create a serious shortfall in the global protein supply. As it happens, the timing could not be better for the U.S. chicken industry.

After ending 2018 with concerns about low prices and a coming oversupply of chicken – as well as competing animal proteins – the ASF outbreak creates an opportunity for all proteins globally. A number of new processing plants are being built or are opening in 2019 and a number of processors are upgrading their facilities, too. This new production capacity looks to be coming online just in time to meet new demand for animal protein.

Known unknowns

There remains a number of serious questions surrounding the outbreak of the disease with no known cure and no currently available vaccine. No one knows how long it will last in China, where it may spread next and how long the effects will linger on the global market.

The key question for domestic animal agriculture is whether or not China’s dire situation will force the Chinese government to open the market to poultry and other animal protein imported from the U.S. If that access is granted, it could be a boost for the industry, too.

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.