China forecasts Lunar New Year pork supplies to be 30% higher than year ago

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Customers wearing face masks buy pork meat at a wholesale market for agricultural products, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Customers wearing face masks buy pork meat at a wholesale market for agricultural products, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) - Pork supplies during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday in China, the world's top consumer, will be 30% higher than a year ago, an agriculture official said on Wednesday, after significant efforts to rebuild a depleted hog herd.

The recovery of pig production, in addition to large pork imports and changes in consumer demand, would boost pork supplies by about 30% year-on-year, reducing prices compared with last year, said Chen Guanghua, the deputy director of the veterinary bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, during a media briefing.

The Lunar New Year holiday is China's most important and pork is traditionally served at meals during reunion dinners when millions of families across the country congregate. It will begin on the evening of Feb. 11, 2021.

Pig producers have built 12,500 new large-scale pig farms in the first three quarters of the year and restarted more than 13,000 empty farms, Wei Baigang, the head of the development and planning division of the ministry, said at the briefing.

Wei said the recovery of the hog herd had been "better than expected" after African swine fever wiped out at least 40% of China's pigs in 2019.

China's agriculture ministry had set a goal last year of restoring the herd to 80% of normal levels by the end of 2020.

Through September, pig stocks were 370 million, or 84% of the level in 2017, before the disease hit, said Wei, while breeding sows reached 38.22 million, or 86% of 2017 levels.

Pork prices have fallen for seven consecutive weeks as more pigs are slaughtered, added Wei, dropping to 50.56 yuan ($7.59) per kg.

($1 = 6.6629 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Christian Schmollinger)