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China releases more meat reserves to ensure supplies

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China auctioned 10,000 tonnes of pork from state reserves on Thursday to guarantee meat supply during the upcoming National Day holiday, the commerce ministry said.

The country also released 2,400 tonnes of beef and 1,900 tonnes of lamb from state reserves this month, it said.

Pork prices have jumped sharply recently and demand for the meat has fallen, the ministry said.

The ministry said it would continue to monitor supplies and pork prices while coordinating with other government agencies to release meat from state reserves as required to guarantee supply in the market.

With a significant increase in meat imports and as the volume of frozen meat in reserves remains high, supplies are secured, it added.

The move was seen by analysts as a symbolic gesture, however, and unlikely to cool pork prices.

“Our consumption is 12,000 tonnes a day,” said Ma Chuang, partner at Beijing-based consultancy Boyar. “It’s just a signal that the state is paying attention to the problem.”

China celebrates its National Day on Oct. 1 with olidays lasting a whole week.

“During the holidays lots of people go traveling and eat out. The restaurants mainly use frozen meat so there won’t be a big impact,” said Ma, but he added that high prices were a longer-term concern.

Pork prices in the world’s top consumer hit record levels after an outbreak of African swine fever that has reduced the pig herd by around 40 per cent.

Beijing is rolling out measures to help recover pig production and secure meat supplies.

China consumed about 54 million tonnes of pork in 2018 but volumes this year are uncertain because of the shortages.

 

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