China begins selling 40,000 tonnes of pork from reserves

BEIJING: China will sell 40,000 tonnes of frozen pork from its state reserves on Dec 12, in the latest move to ensure sufficient supplies ahead of the country’s upcoming Lunar New Year holidays.

The auction comes amid a huge shortage of meat in the country, after incurable pig disease African swine fever killed millions of the country’s hogs.

The government has recently said it will release supplies from reserves to guarantee sufficient meat for Lunar New Year in late January, China’s peak meat consumption period.

The volume of meat to be auctioned, outlined in a notice posted on the website of the China Merchandise Reserve Management Centre on Tuesday, is larger than three previous sales of 10,000 tonnes each time during September.

Pork prices in China have hit record levels, driving inflation close to an eight-year high, after the hog herd shrank by 41%, according to the government.

The volumes auctioned by the state reserves are far too small to make much difference to a shortage estimated at about 13 million tonnes in 2019.

However the agriculture ministry said on Monday that high prices have reduced consumption while imports have jumped, both factors that may ease the supply pressure ahead of the holidays.