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China is considering diving into pork reserves to contain costs – AFR

Chinese authorities may dip into strategic pork reserves to curb prices for the staple meat, Beijing’s top economic planner said on Tuesday.

Pork prices in the world’s second-biggest economy soared late last month, with the meat selling for 32 percent more than in June 2021 as market supplies dwindled, state media agency Xinhua reported.

The surge was due to “irrational behaviors such as blind stockpiling and reluctance to sell in the live pig market,” the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement on social media.

The NDRC said the restraint was aimed at boosting profits and ordered major suppliers to slaughter pigs at a “regular pace” and warned against hoarding, Xinhua said.

On Tuesday, the commission added that it was “looking into declassifying central pork reserves.”

It has also ordered local governments to release supplies “in good time” to protect against sharp price hikes.

China has been largely spared the impact of a global spike in food prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

But pork prices have been hit hard after African swine fever ravaged the country’s herds in recent years, prompting a surge in consumer inflation.

In 2019, authorities said they would free up land to bring pork production back to pre-swine fever levels, and officials have since released stocks from reserves to stem rising costs.

“As pig prices continue to rise, pig farmers are turning losses into profits… farmers are now benefiting about 60 yuan (about $9) per capita,” Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs pig expert Wang Zuli told state broadcaster CCTV an interview in June.

“We can say that the darkest days for pig farmers are over,” Wang said, adding that pork stocks are expected to increase.

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