December 26, 2019 / 9:25 AM / a month ago

Vietnam's pork imports more than double amid swine fever outbreak

FILE PHOTO: Pigs are seen at a farm outside Hanoi, Vietnam June 28, 2019. Picture taken June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam’s pork imports during the first 11 months of this year more than doubled to 110,000 metric tonnes, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday, as the country’s pig herd has been battered by an outbreak of African swine fever.

Since the disease was first detected in February, it has spread to all 63 provinces in Vietnam, forcing the culling of some six million pigs, or 20% of the total hog herd, and nearly tripling prices.

The increase in pork price is putting upward pressure on inflation, especially in the first quarter of 2020, due to higher consumption during the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Vietnam will continue to import pork while restoring pig production as the outbreak has shown signs of slowing down, the ministry said.

“We can’t let a pork shortage happen,” Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said in the statement. “We have to import to compensate for the deficit.”

While not harmful to humans, African swine fever is deadly to pigs, with no available vaccine.

The outbreak has driven up prices for live pigs in Vietnam to over 100,000 dong ($4.32) per kg from around 35,000 dong early this year, traders say.

($1 = 23,173 dong)

Reporting by Khanh Vu; editing by Jason Neely

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