Pig virus forces up US pork prices

By Eleanor Mackay

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pork Pig Livestock

The deadly hog virus, porcine epidemic diarrhea (PEDV), is forcing the price of pork up and could boost imports into Japan, despite the Japanese recently imposing temporary restrictions on US imports.

PEDV has been detected in 186,825 hogs across 251 farms and 19 different Japanese prefectures, The virus is thought to have killed 39,285 hogs, the highest number of fatalities in the country since 1996.

Futures for June closed at $1.2055 a pound on 4 April 2014 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Prices reached $1.33425 on 18 March 2014, a record high price that is affecting companies such as Smithfield Foods and The Maschhoffs.

The virus is a coronavirus, which damages the cells lining small intestine of a pig, reducing the absorptive surface, It is thought the virus may have spread through pig feed. US cases of the virus have also increased, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that the virus had occurred in 26 states, with 5,000 reported cases.

Some US officials say the US outbreak can be traced back to China where the virus broke out in 2010. As a result of this US outbreak, China and Japan have restricted pork imports from the US until they can prove hogs have been pre-tested for PEDV.

The US National Pork Board (NPB) recently held a collaborative meeting with Canadian officials from the pork and feed agencies. Speaking at the meeting Paul Sunberg DVM, vice-president of science and technology at the NPB said: "After taking all of this information into consideration, the group agreed that there are multiple ways for pigs to become infected via a faecal-oral route, including environmental, transportation, feed systems and other vectors.

"If feed is a factor in the transfer of PEDV, based on past research we know there are specific time and temperature combinations that should inactivate the virus," added Sunberg.

Related topics Meat

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