China Daily 2019-11-15
China is stepping up efforts to support pig farmers and consumers to boost the supply of live pigs and curb surging pork prices.
Premier Li Keqiang said the government will take key measures to stabilize agricultural production, drive the recovery in live pig supplies, cancel unreasonable regulations prohibiting and restricting the breeding of live pigs to ensure supplies and bring down soaring prices.
Li made the remarks on Tuesday while presiding over a symposium on the economic situation.
Zhu Zengyong, a researcher on the pork industry at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said more than 20 provinces and municipalities have introduced policies to ensure pig supplies, such as offering subsidies and easier financing to pig farms.
"Pig farming is recovering, buoyed by government policies and farmers' rising enthusiasm for breeding live pigs," Zhu said.
"It's pretty common that the government will release frozen meat before holidays like Spring Festival, which will also help ease the tight supplies."
The government's strong measures came after pork prices spiraled in the last few months.
Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that prices of pork, the country's staple meat, jumped 20.1 percent month-on-month in October, as an African swine fever outbreak killed or forced the country to cull affected pigs.
Zhu said though there is still pressure due to the tight pork supply, the abundant stocks of poultry, beef and mutton as well as the government's effective guarantee measures will help tide over the situation.
"I think the rise in pork prices is purely seasonal," Zhu said. "It is unlikely that pork prices will surge or dip significantly in the next few months. With the gradual recovery in hog supply, pork prices will gradually fall in the next year."
NBS said on Thursday that live hog prices have fallen by 3.4 percent month-on-month in early November.
According to the latest weekly monitoring data released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the pork price index in 16 provinces and municipalities has fallen for the second consecutive week. The data showed that the pork price index dipped 3.6 percent month-on-month during the period between Nov 4 to Nov 8.
"Although the prices have slightly fallen since October, the overall tight supply picture will still remain in the next few months," Zhu said.
Huatai Securities said in a recent report that pork supplies will still be tight as sow production has declined since September 2018.
"With the number of female pigs used for reproduction gradually improving, supplies may recover from next June, especially if the African swine flu outbreak is controlled. There is unlikely to be any major fluctuations in the prices of live pigs," it said.
China, however, is determined to stabilize pig production and pork prices, and both the central and local governments have taken a series of measures to ensure the same.
Last week, Tianjin unveiled a plan to boost pig production, ensure market supplies and better control the African swine flu outbreak. The plan proposes to offer subsidies for breeding farms, offering low-interest loans and improving insurance policies.
"Local governments need to further deploy the policies announced by the central government," Zhu said. "More efforts are also needed to alleviate difficulties faced while accessing affordable financing for small pig farms."