China must recover pig production, stabilise pork supply - vice premier

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said the country must resolutely work to achieve the target of recovering pig production numbers, and stabilise pork supply for the upcoming holidays, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

China must ensure stable pork supply in key periods of early 2020, including the Lunar New Year holidays in January and during the annual National People’s Congress in March, Xinhua cited Hu as saying at a meeting on animal husbandry on Saturday.

Millions of pigs have died or been culled due to the African swine fever outbreak in China and other Asian countries such as Vietnam. The disease has slashed China's pig herd by as much as half since August 2018, U.S. agribusiness firm Archer Daniels Midland Co ADM.N said in November.

The ravaging of pig herds in the world’s top pork market helped to drive China’s consumer price index (CPI) up 3.8% year-on-year in October, the fastest increase in nearly eight years.

Pork prices more than doubled in annual terms in October, according to China’s statistics bureau, accounting for over 60% of the CPI rise. China’s October pork imports doubled from a year earlier in response to the domestic production declines, and Beijing has pushed to approve new sources of pork as part of its efforts to stabilise prices.

China’s official Securities Times newspaper also reported that Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), at a forum on Saturday said China will also launch a new pig futures contract as soon as possible given the importance of pork to the Chinese diet. The report did not give a target date for launching the futures.

Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Se Young Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Tom Hogue