China coronavirus putting more pressure on pork supplies, prices

A staff member selecting pork items for online orders at JD.com's 7Fresh chain, in Yizhuang town, Beijing, on Feb 8, 2020.
A staff member selecting pork items for online orders at JD.com's 7Fresh chain, in Yizhuang town, Beijing, on Feb 8, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's coronavirus outbreak has delayed the launch of new pig breeding facilities and put even more pressure on pork supplies and prices, an official with the agriculture ministry told a briefing on Sunday (Feb 9).

Mr Kong Liang, deputy director at the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the delivery of vital feed and veterinary medicine supplies, and also delayed the return of agricultural workers to farms.

To contain the spread of the virus, China has imposed halts on the movement of people and goods from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei province, which is also under a lockdown, as well as other regions with cases of the disease.

"Looking at it from a market perspective, due to the regional blockades, pork supplies in some places are tight, and prices have risen by a certain extent," Mr Kong told reporters.

China's pork supplies were reduced by as much as 21.3 per cent in 2019 as a result of an African swine fever outbreak that forced authorities to slaughter as many as 390,000 pigs, Mr Kong said.

The latest crisis has interrupted state-led efforts to revive the industry.

China has released 10,000 tonnes of frozen pork from its strategic reserve for use in Hubei.

It is also aiming to raise imports to alleviate shortages.