Reflecting on the past six months of 2020 it feels like reflecting on an entire year compressed into only six months. As an industry we had to deal with a foot-and-mouth outbreak, reoccurring African swine fewer outbreaks, as well as an unforeseen lockdown period, and an extension thereof, because of Covid-19. The year 2020 will definitely in future be remembered as one of the greatest change agents of the last century, not only because of the impact of a minute virus on the planet and its inhabitants, but also for its impact on the behavior of individuals, communities and mighty nations because of the unpredictable unknown. Historically, farmers’ prices for pigs in South Africa are normally the lowest in April/May every year. However, farmers current prices are lower than the average cost to produce a pig. At the moment, prices are as low as during the listeria outbreak in South Africa in April 2018. The total amount of pigs slaughtered at the end of April 2020 was 5,09% higher than the year-on-year average. Pork imports decreased month-on-month from January 2020, mainly due to the effect of the disruption that ASF in the East had on the world market of pork. The imported price of pork products into South Africa increased gradually from mid 2019 to a two-year high in April 2020. Exports, especially to neighbouring countries, increased nearly by 30% from December 2019. The brutal facts are that the South African pork industry is facing challenges like all farmers on the planet. The definition, intensity, quantum and risk thereof may differ from farmer to farmer or country to country but we all share a similar challenge at the moment. The unknown is overwhelming. Our behaviour towards these challenges is going to be essential to future success. As South African farmers we willfully face these brutal facts with faith and by being creative in innovating a farming future for the new norm we live in. As an industry we are expanding our farming operations with improved innovation to mitigate our risks. We are confident that pork is an important and vital source of protein that is needed to feed not only South Africa’s population but the population of the world. To all the pig farmers, be courageous and strong. We can and will overcome this challenge.
Johann Kotzé, EPP South African Branch and CEO of the South African Pork Producers Association