ASF threatens Chinese retail crisis due to soaring meat prices

Soaring wholesale meat prices in China sparked by the African swine fever epidemic are threatening a crisis in the nation’s food retail sector, which has struggled to pass on the bulk of the increases to consumers.

The FT* reported that pork prices were nearly 159% higher in October than a year earlier, more than double the retail price rise of nearly 73%, hitting restaurants, butchers and other food retail outlets.

The trend has been reflected in other meats and sources of protein, including beef, chicken and eggs, suggesting the impact of swine fever is beginning to hit the wider economy just as growth has slowed down to a 30-year low of 6%.

“We don’t know how much damage African swine fever will do to the economy,” said Guo Dandan, an analyst at Sublime China Information, a consultancy, “but it keeps getting worse.”

The Ministry of Agriculture reported that the average wholesale price of chicken in big cities rose by more than 33% in October from a year earlier and for beef by nearly 17%.

However, retail prices for chicken rose only about 18% and for beef 12%, forcing restaurants and other outlets to absorb the losses.

“Demand for pork substitutes has outstripped supply,” said Cui Ernan, an analyst at Dragonomics, “that drives up their prices.”

*story can be read via subscription.

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