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Pig farmers reduce soybean pulp consumption amid trade dispute
Last Updated: 2018-07-20 10:55 | Xinhua
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Pig farmers in central China's Henan Province are reducing soybean pulp consumption in response to its rising price amid trade conflicts between China and the United States.

Ye Chuanlin is in charge of a company that specializes in producing pig feed in Henan, known for its large-scale pig industry.

In recent years, Ye's company has been focusing on developing pig feed formulas that contain a lower proportion of soybean pulp. The ongoing trade dispute propelled the company to use those formulas.

"Traditional pig feed contains about 20 percent soybean pulp. But due to the recent trade conflict, we started to cut the amount used in our products by replacing it with desirable alternatives," said Ye.

"Now my company produces a feed with only 10 percent soybean pulp," added Ye.

Soybean pulp consists of insoluble parts of the soybean that remains after the oil is extracted. With multiple factors in play, the price of soybean pulp has recently experienced a slight increase.

According to data released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, in the first week of July, the average price of soybean pulp rose 3.7 percent compared to the same period last year.

China has the largest livestock breeding industry in the world, and soybeans are a major source of protein in livestock feed. In 2017, China imported more than 32.85 million tons of soybeans from the United States, accounting for 34.4 percent of China's total soybean imports.

After the United States ignited the trade war in early July, China was forced to implement 25-percent additional tariffs on a range of U.S. products including soybeans.

As the world's two major economic powers trade blows, the pig-rearing industry in Henan is feeling the pain.

Henan has the second largest number of slaughter pigs in China, with an annual pig slaughter of about 62 million in 2017.

Official statistics indicate that the 3.2 million tons of soybeans Henan imported from the United States in 2017 were able to produce 25 million tons of soybean pulp, which made up more than half of the total volume that the province needed to run the industry.

Meanwhile, from January to May this year, the number of soybeans imported from the United States accounted for over 30 percent of the total soybean imports in Henan, according to Zhengzhou Customs.

Pig farms in Henan believe the recent bump in soybean pulp prices would not have a perceptible impact on the breeding industry as some companies are reducing the percentage of pulp in their products through finding suitable replacements to hedge against the price swing.

Xie Jiangang has a small pig breeding company with 4,000 live pigs in Nanyang city, Henan.

He said the cost of soybean pulp in pig feed has remained high for some years, but he has used a number of alternatives such as peanut meal, cotton aphid, and corn DDGS to reduce the percentage of soybean pulp in the fodder.

By now, Xie has successfully reduced the amount of soybean pulp in pig feed to less than ten percent and found that the fodder which contains lower soybean pulp does not seem to affect the quality of the pork.

"I have already had five different kinds of sophisticated pig feed formulas, and I will choose the most cost-effective one based on their respective price," said Xie.

Professor Li Ming from Henan Agricultural University believes that against the backdrop of Sino-U.S. trade conflict, more pig breeders in Henan will seek to reduce the use of soybean pulp in their pig feed formulas as a countermeasure against the price rise.

"Although the growth rate of pigs may be affected, it will have a positive effect on the general quality of the pork," Li added.

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