Meat Markets Sizzling

Cattle and hog prices are taking off as Asian countries continue to struggle with the African Swine Fever epidemic.

The disease, which does not affect humans, is widespread in China, Mongolia, and Vietnam, with recent reports of new infections in South Korea and the Philippines. The virus is highly contagious and deadly to pigs, leading affected countries to cull healthy hog herds in affected areas to contain the outbreak.

As a result of direct deaths or preventative culling, hog populations in Asia are sharply lower; China’s hog herd is almost 40% smaller than last year, while Vietnam has culled over 15% of its hog population.

These losses are creating a meat shortage in Asia, which is helping U.S. beef and pork exporters, who are seeing higher global prices for their products.

This week, hogs for delivery in December neared a two-month high over 71 cents per pound, while December cattle topped $1.10 per pound, the highest price since mid-August.

October feeder cattle futures, which are young animals and represent future demand, traded to a four-month high on Friday over $1.44 per pound.