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Asia Minute: Pork prices soar ahead of Chinese holidays

China Inflation
Mark Schiefelbein/AP
FILE - In this May 8, 2019, file photo, pigs stand in a barn at a pig farm in Jiangjiaqiao village in northern China's Hebei province. Soaring pork prices that nearly doubled in December kept China's inflation at a seven-year high despite government efforts to ease meat shortages caused by a disease outbreak. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Inflation has hit food prices around the world. And that includes a particular menu item that will be especially important for many people in coming weeks.

The price of pork is serious business in China — especially as a week-long national holiday draws closer.

No one in the world consumes more pork than China.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture puts the country’s annual consumption at more than 40 million metric tons.

That’s more than 52 pounds a person a year.

It’s so important as a staple meat that the government has made pork the most heavily weighted food item in China’s consumer price index.

Prices have been rising sharply for three months in a row — up nearly 15% in June, more than 25% in July and another 23% in August.

That’s about four times faster than the rate of inflation for overall food prices.

On Friday, the official Xinhua news agency reported pork prices are now up nearly 70% from a year ago.

It’s gotten so bad that the government is dipping into its pork reserves — frozen meat set aside for emergency situations.

Part of what makes this qualify as an emergency is the calendar.

China’s national Day comes on Oct.1, which kicks off a week of holidays.

It’s a time of family gatherings — around food — for many, preferably that includes pork.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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