China releases 10,000 tons of pork reserves to boost supply

World Today

In this Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, photo, a clerk stacks cuts of pork at a meat market in Beijing. Chinese families are having to rethink menu options as pork prices soar despite government efforts to rebuild herds decimated by African swine fever and large-scale closures of pig farms for environmental reasons. (AP Photo/Fu Ting)

China has released 10,000 tons of pork from its strategic reserves to help boost supply, as it prepares for the National Day holiday. The price of pork has been on the rise, with an epidemic of African Swine Fever threatening the world’s largest herds of hogs. CGTN’s Gerald Tan reports.

Pork soup dumplings. Suckling pig. Hong shao rou — just some of China’s favorite dishes, all of them pork-based. Half the world’s pork is consumed in China, but those meals have been getting more expensive.

Prices for pork have been rising for the past 15 weeks, and aren’t expected to drop anytime soon.

Data released by China’s Commerce Ministry show pork costing $5.16/kg for the week ending September 15th. That’s just over a 4% increase from the previous week.

Sun Tiantao, a worker at a pork shop said: “The price started increasing since August. The African swine fever was severe last year, leading to the rapid increase of pork prices. The main reason is that there are fewer pigs in the market now. Fewer pigs, higher prices.”

Since a case of African Swine Fever was discovered in August 2018, the disease has spread to every province on the Chinese mainland. More than 1.1 million pigs have been killed.

According to Chinese Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Yu Kangzhen: “The situation of African swine fever is still very serious, although the number of epidemics has decreased significantly year-on-year, the hidden dangers and risks are terrible.”

China has tried a few ways to stabilize the price of pork, including subsidies for pig farms and more favorable insurance policies for producers.

Local governments have released pork from their reserves, while on Thursday Beijing auctioned off 10,000 tons of frozen pork from the national reserves.

China is also importing more meat. Despite the trade war, China has purchased more than 10,000 tons of pork from the United States in the first week of August alone.

U.S. pork has been granted an exemption from additional tariffs imposed this month.

Pork imports are expected to hit at least 2,000,000 tons this year. China is simultaneously trying to eradicate the highly contagious African Swine Fever.