BEIJING (AP) — 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.
Liu Min, a 61-year-old retired cleaning lady, went ahead and bought a small chunk of pork that cost her 21 yuan ($3) during a recent visit to a local fresh market. That’s nearly twice what it usually costs.
After all, you can’t make “zhajiang” style noodles without pork to go into its heavy bean-based sauce, Liu said.
But pork is a big part of her diet, as it is for most Chinese, and the higher prices are pinching.
“This is having a huge effect on me, a huge one,” she said.
Pork prices surged 46.7% in August from a year earlier, adding 1.08 percentage points to a 2.8% rise in the consumer price index. That’s hitting Chinese families hard: pork accounts for more than 60% of their meat consumption.
“People complain pork is too expensive and buy less, so business is not going well,” said Sun Tiantao, who sells pork in a market in Beijing.
China raises about half of the world’s pigs, and the outbreaks of African swine fever that began over a year ago have ravaged its herds. The disease does not infect humans.
To boost pork production, the government announced this week that it will take steps to help revive hog production, prevent and control the disease and upgrade farms to further ensure pork supplies and stable prices.
That will take some doing: in August hog stocks dropped nearly 40% from a year earlier and nearly 10% from July, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
The trend is unlikely to reverse anytime soon, and piglet prices had more than doubled from a year earlier to 52.93 yuan ($7.50) per kilogram as of last week, the ministry said.