Improving the Productivity, Efficiency, and Sustainability of Chinese Pork Producers

Principal Investigator: Thomas Parsons, Associate Professor of Swine Production Medicine, Department of Clinical Studies – New Bolton Center

Co-Principal Investigators:  David T Galligan, Professor of Animal Health Economics; Gary Althouse, Professor and Chairman, Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center & Marion Dilley and David George Jones Endowed Chair in Animal Reproduction

Lead School: School of Veterinary Medicine

Penn Partners: The Wharton School

Chinese Partners:  Zoetis, Inc.

Other Partners: Hatfield Quality Meats/Country View Family Farms, United States Grains Council

Project Abstract

Over the next 35 years, food production must almost double to meet the growing demands of the world population which is estimated to exceed 9 billion by 2050 with 1.4 billion living in China by 2030. In addition to population growth, the emerging affluence and urbanization as well as changing dietary patterns will dramatically increase the demand for all animal proteins including meat, milk and poultry products. Pork remains the most consumed animal protein in the world, largely based on the dietary habits of the Chinese as over 50% of the pork eaten in the world is consumed in China. The Chinese produce only about 5 times the amount of pork as does the US despite their sow herd (number of mother pigs) being nearly 10 times that of US. Thus, there is tremendous opportunity for improvement by Chinese pork producers as it only about half as efficient. The amount of pork produced by the US continues to grow despite a relatively constant sized number of mother sows. These increases in efficiencies can be attributed to improvements in animals and husbandry practices as well as structural changes to the industry. However, both the US and Chinese face questions about what is a sustainable model of pork production as societal concerns evolve regarding environment impact, antibiotic use, and animal welfare.

The long term goal of this project is to help develop a sustainable model of pork production in China. Our project targets improving the knowledge base of a select group of thought leaders in the Chinese swine industry and promises to convey them advanced capabilities and a competitive edge. A sustainable model for pork production must address environmental impact, human health issues, and ethical concerns about animal use while being a financially viable value proposition for all stakeholder. Accordingly, this project promises to impact local communities on a variety of levels.

This project is comprised of three main tasks. The first, an annual educational summit, focused on the sustainability of the Chinese swine production sector and the challenges it will face in the future. The summit convened leading swine academics from Chinese veterinary or agricultural schools, along with their students, with the goal of exchanging information between the industry and academia. The second task, a sustainability research exchange, is in process. The exchange sponsors Chinese students to travel to the US as a research fellows to study the sustainability of the Chinese swine industry. The third task, an in-depth study on the sustainability in Pennsylvania pork industry by visiting Chinese pork industry players, took place in September of 2017.