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China will release frozen pork from reserves to increase market supplies

China's commerce ministry said on Thursday it will release frozen pork, beef and mutton from state reserves in "due course" to increase the supply of meat in the market.

29 August 2019, at 10:32am

The comments come as pork prices in the world's top consumer of the meat hit a record throughout the African swine fever outbreak, reports Reuters.

pork meat for sale in a wet market

The country's hog herd has shrunk by almost a third since a year ago, according to official data, and pork prices have soared since June.

China often releases some of its meat from storage when prices are high, or during high demand periods such as the weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, the country's biggest festival.

It released 9,600 tonnes of reserve pork this January, according to state media reports. But while total volumes held by the country are not known, analysts say they are unlikely to be significant enough to have a real influence on market supplies.

"The government wants to support the market but this is more of a political gesture," said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.

"They may call for other players to follow them," she added, referring to slaughterhouses or cold storage facilities with stocks of frozen pork.

Pork retail prices jumped 7.8 percent in the week leading up to 14 August, hitting 32.4 yuan per kilogram, data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs showed. This is almost 50 percent higher than at the same time a year ago.

China's cabinet has called for measures to support a recovery in production.