The World Organisation for Animal Health – the global agency in charge of coordinating animal disease control, is predicting that the spread of the African swine fever (ASF) epidemic will wipe out a quarter of the world’s pig population. Since 2018, Asia has experienced mass escalation of ASF, with the world’s largest pig producer – China – bearing the brunt of the deaths while the disease continues to wipe pig populations out in neighboring Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines.
The organisation says that with no end in sight – the virus seems set to stay for the foreseeable future.
Due to the forecast, many plant-based pork alternatives are looking to meet the gap in the market in China and Asia more broadly.
According to reports, as many as 100 million pigs have been culled in China alone, leading the country to grant export approval to foreign pork suppliers, which has pushed global prices up.
Speaking on these worrying predictions, vice-president of the organisation Dr Mark Schipp said that ASF posed the “biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation” and will inflame a worldwide crisis.
While veterinary scientists around the world are continuing their efforts to find a vaccine for the virus, it remains a challenge because the disease is 100 percent fatal once infected in pig populations through direct contact between animals or through ticks. The virus can also survive in processed meat for months, and for years in frozen meat products.