COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The Chinese pork market, currently flooded by domestic supply, is expected to recover in the second quarter, the head of the world's top pork exporter said on Wednesday.
China's government this month encouraged pig farmers to quickly replenish their herds and said it would buy more pork for its reserves as it sought to curb price rises later in the year.
"The fear of swine fever means that lots of pigs are being slaughtered in China at the moment, which limits the options on that market," Danish Crown Chief Executive Jais Valeur said in an interview. "But I expect that to change around the second quarter, when we'll see a shortage of domestic supply in China."
China's agriculture ministry said this month it expects pork prices to rise in the second half of the year.
China, the world's biggest producer of pork, is battling the world's fastest spreading epidemic of African swine fever. The disease has now reached 24 of its provinces and led to the culling of more than 900,000 pigs. The disease is deadly to hogs, but does not affect people.
(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, editing by Larry King)