China to release more frozen pork from reserves ahead of holidays: CCTV

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will release more frozen pork from its reserves ahead of the upcoming New Year and Lunar New Year holidays, state-owned CCTV reported, citing the Ministry of Commerce.

FILE PHOTO: A man sweeps next to pigs kept temporarily inside a vehicle in Baise, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

This comes amid a huge shortage of meat in the country, after the incurable pig disease African swine fever killed millions of the country’s hogs and the pig herd shrank by more than 40%.

China will also further increase its pork imports and diversify the import origins of the meat, Wang Bin, deputy director of the market operation department under the Ministry of Commerce said, according to CCTV.

The country will also release frozen beef and mutton in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, the report said.

Beijing has already released more than 100,000 tonnes of frozen pork from state reserves since mid-December, CCTV reported, citing Wang.

Analysts expect pork will remain in high demand as China prepares to celebrate the Lunar New Year starting on Jan. 25, the peak consumption period for the meat.

During January to November, China’s pork imports rose 57.9% from a year earlier to 1.7 million tonnes.

China’s consumer inflation rose to an eight-year high in November as pork prices doubled.

By Dec. 18, retail pork prices were more than double from a year earlier at 50.99 yuan ($7.30) per kg.

($1 = 6.9824 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Shivani Singh and Hallie Gu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger