A second wave of African swine fever (ASF) is estimated to have killed as many as eight million pigs in China since the start of the year, derailing the country’s plans to rebuild its national herd.

The first reported outbreak of the disease was in August 2018 and within a year it had spread to multiple countries and killed an estimated 25 per cent quarter of the world’s pig population.

Independent meat analyst Simon Quilty said the ASF variants that swept through China in the past two months had significant implications for the global protein market.

“China has just come out in recent days claiming that by the middle of this year they will be back to 100 per cent recovery [from African swine fever], which is simply impossible,” he told ABC Rural.

“Because in the last six to eight weeks, this second wave – due to some new strains of the virus – has killed somewhere between seven and eight million sows.”

Doubts over data

Mr Quilty said there were a number of indicators that suggested China was “nowhere near the herd rebuild” its ministry of agriculture claimed.

“Piglet prices in China are today four times the value of what they were pre-African swine fever in 2017-18,” he said.

“Hog prices are two to three times higher and sow prices are more than double.

“So if the herd was back to the level they claim, we would not be seeing these significant numbers [prices] — they’d be back at pre-ASF levels … and then add to that this second wave of swine fever.”