Via China Daily

Residents shop for pork at Lianyun district at Lianyungang city in Jiangsu province on Dec 3, 2019. [Photo by Wang Chun/for China Daily]

Pigs are a symbol of wealth in the country’s culture and demand is especially strong, which will be met by frozen varieties

Pork, a staple in China, will continue to be one of the major delicacies on the dining tables of Chinese consumers for the New Year 2020 and the upcoming Spring Festival.

Increasing supplies have helped to trim pork prices and fulfill the high demand during the booming festive period.

China has been the world’s largest consumer of pork, accounting for more than 60 percent of the nation’s meat consumption.

The year 2019 was the year of the pig in the Chinese zodiac. Yet, the year witnessed a dramatic price hike in pork. An outbreak of African swine fever has resulted in a shortage of more than 10 million metric tons of pork or at least 20 percent of China’s total pork output in 2019.

Industry experts said it would take at least six months for a full recovery in pig production capacity and the breeding of new pigs.

On Dec 27, the average wholesale price of pork nationwide was 42.89 yuan ($6.14) per kilogram, down 18.15 percent from the average price on Nov 1, but still about 140 percent higher from the year ago level, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, starting December, the government began introducing 140,000 tons of reserved frozen pork in three batches into the market, to increase supplies and stabilize prices during the festive period.

“The central government has significantly increased its supply of frozen pork in the market, and the support is expected to last until Spring Festival. This time, the volume was much higher than the volume of reserved frozen pork that exited the warehouses in September,” said Zhu Zengyong, a pork analyst at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

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Ahead of the National Day holiday in 2019, the government released a total of 30,000 tons of reserved frozen pork into the market on Sept 19, 26 and 29 to expand supplies and curb rising pork prices.

“Some local governments have also started to put their own reserved frozen pork in the market. This indicates a positive signal that meat supply, including pork, will be abundant during the festive period, and prices are foreseen to remain stable,” Zhu said.

“In the first half of 2020, pork prices are expected to remain at a high level. In the second half of the year, pork prices will return to a reasonable level with the recovery of production, and it will enter a new round of the price cycle,” he explained.

He added that in the next few years, the safety level of pig breeding, production and management would get promoted. The meat consumption structure of Chinese will be optimized, and the consumption proportion of poultry is likely to increase significantly.

With a diversification of tastes and the increasing income of Chinese consumers, their consumption volume of pork nationwide dropped to 54.89 million tons in 2019 from 57.19 million tons in 2014.

But the pork consumed in China still makes up half of the global consumption volume.