Current Situation:

  • ASF Update: After seven months without a domestic case of ASF, officials reported two cases on a farm in Yeongwol-gun (65 miles, 105 km south of the North Korean border).  170 neighboring farms were tested, all showing negative results.  There was a wild boar finding 1.2 km from the infected farm.  Korean officials reported 46 positive ASF findings in wild boars in the thus far through May.  Korea’s response to ASF has been swift and severe.  These continued Korean findings speak to the incredible difficulty of eradication in an area with wild boars.
  • Coronavirus Update: Korea’s COVID goal is have 70% vaccinated by September; currently just 8% have been vaccinated.  Korean officials lifted the mask mandate outside for those who are vaccinated.  Korean COVID cases and deaths rates remain among the world’s lowest.
  • Korean pork imports were up +6% from a year ago in April due to big gains by Spain and the Netherlands offsetting year-over-year declines from the U.S. and Germany. German pork imports have fallen to nil as they were banned after wild boars were found infected with ASF in Germany last September. 
  • The loss of Germany has not yet been offset on a YTD basis. Those imports are down -27,878 MT (Jan-Apr) while total Korean pork imports are down -7,307 mt.  Note that imports from Spain are up +8,028 mt YTD.  Imports from Canada are up +49%, Netherlands +109%, Australia +125%, Denmark +275%.  Demand for imported pork bellies remains strong in Korea. 
  • Korean hog carcass prices have jumped +56% since late February on a strong seasonal summer move. Summer pork demand typically leads sharp price increase during this time.  But increased consumer confidence and continued success controlling COVID outbreaks have boosted Korean pork demand. 
  • The Bank of Korea’s consumer sentiment index rose to 102.2 in April, a new post-pandemic high. Korean retail sales jumped +13.7% from a year ago, even as Department store sales jumped +34.5%. 
  • We are forecasting Korean pork imports -8% in 2021 due to the loss of Germany and tight global pork supplies. Note sharp price increases in recent months from the U.S., EU, and Mexico.