Asia Minute: China’s Pork Predicament

Dec 2, 2019

In the United States, on this Monday after Thanksgiving, some of you may still be thinking of turkey. But in China, there's increased attention on a different kind of meat. It's pork — and the country is suffering a severe shortage.

 


China's government says pork prices have come down a bit from their recent peaks, but they're still twice as high a year ago. That inflation has hit households hard. Trade figures show China consumes about half of the pork produced in the world.

African swine fever is the culprit. The first outbreak was about a year and a half ago. It's struck millions of pigs, and led to slaughters around the country.

Farmers have been reluctant to replace them because of fears of further infection.

Chinese state media says the result is a drop of nearly 200 million in the number of the country's pigs — some estimates put that at 40% of China's pig population.

Pork imports have risen — they remain a small, but growing portion of the market.

According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, Chinese imports of U.S. pork more than tripled between January and August this year. But further growth depends on those continuing trade talks.

Meanwhile, other kinds of trade are emerging. Late last week, authorities in Hong Kong said they intercepted a smuggled shipment of some 540 tons of frozen pork. The meat's value: more than six million U.S. dollars.

Chinese officials say if it would have reached the mainland, the price would have doubled.