Pork Prices in China Pick Up as Consumption Increases

( Taoqi Shao )

As the cold weather sets in, China’s pork prices saw an increase on Monday as consumption grew and supplies remained limited in the world’s largest pork-consuming country. 

This price increase is the first meaningful rebound in more than a month, Reuters reports.

Wholesale pork prices rose 1.1% from Friday to Monday, reaching $6.03 per kilo, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Although prices have been volatile, analysts say they may be starting to trend up again as consumption rises during winter, especially during the Lunar New Year holiday in late January.

However, an agriculture ministry official said on Tuesday that ample frozen pork inventories will help contain pork prices. State reserves have been boosted recently with imports and domestic supplies are expected to increase because pigs are being raised to higher weights on good profits, Reuters reports.

The fight against ASF continues

Chinese pork prices jumped in October to almost three times 2018’s level after millions of pigs died from the deadly African swine fever (ASF) virus since the first outbreak in China in August 2018. High prices pushed China’s consumer price index up 3.8% in October, the biggest increase in almost eight years. The country responded by launching inspections of cold storage facilities and releasing pork from state reserves, Reuters reports.

After reaching $7.39 per kilogram, prices dropped unexpectedly by 20% last month as consumers cut back on pork and more supplies of frozen pork were released to the market, Reuters reports.

To help slow the spread of the disease, six provinces in southern China including the major pork consumption regions of Guangdong and Guangxi, banned the import of live hogs from other provinces starting Nov. 30.

Many pig farmers tried to ship their pigs to slaughterhouses before the policy took effect, cooling prices. In addition, panic continued as reports of new ASF outbreaks hurried farmers to sell their hogs. That increased supply temporarily as the market is still squeezed, Reuters reports.

As consumption continues to pick up before the Lunar New Year holiday, pork prices are expected to continue to rise. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said on Saturday that the country must resolutely work to achieve the target of recovering pig production numbers, and stabilize pork supply for the upcoming holidays.

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