BEIJING – China announced on Thursday that it will release 10,000 tons of pork supplies from its central reserves in a move to stabilize its prices ahead of the country’s 70th National Day celebrations.
Widely consumed in Chinese festivals, pork has witnessed a price surge in recent months due to an outbreak of African swine fever.
As the country prepares to celebrate a week-long national holiday, the government said it had already put out 2,400 tons of beef and 1,900 tons of sheep meat for sale at the beginning of September.
The announcement was made in a joint statement by the commerce ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission – the main institution of economic planning in the country.
The statement said pork prices had risen sharply and the consumer demand in the market had dropped while meat imports had grown substantially.
It added that frozen meat reserves were maintained at high levels and the market supply could be guaranteed in general.
The commerce ministry said it would continue to release pork from central reserves when necessary to maintain its supply.
Pork is one of the main food products in China, the biggest consumer, and producer of pig meat in the world.
The measure seems to be aimed at satisfying people’s needs ahead of the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the country on Oct. 1.
In August, inflation in China reached its highest levels this year at 2.8 percent year-on-year, mainly driven by food prices, which climbed 10 percent compared to the same month last year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Sept. 10.
Meat registered one of the biggest hikes in prices with 30.9 percent, while pork prices jumped a staggering 46.7 percent.
The main reason behind the hike is the drop in production due to a swine fever outbreak, which has sharply reduced the pig population, with a large number of animals being killed by the disease or culled by authorities since it began in August 2018.
Although the government said in July that the epidemic was under control, official figures show that authorities have had to destroy more than a million pigs.
According to data provided by the government of the United States, China had 441.6 million pigs in 2018, a figure which dropped to 428.1 million in April 2019.
Despite the drop, China continues to possess the largest pig population in the world and accounts for more than 55 percent of the global supply.
African swine fever, which has high mortality rates in pigs and wild boars but does not affect humans and other animals, is a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease that can cause death within two to 10 days of being contracted. According to the World Organization for Animal Health, the death rate could reach as high as 100 percent.