Swine fever is hitting Chinese consumers

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African swine fever has ravaged China’s pig population, and the country’s consumers are feeling the pain.

Some are even switching to other meats as the dietary staple becomes unaffordable.

Pork in China now costs nearly 70% more than it did a year ago, according to data released Tuesday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics. The surge was so dramatic that it pushed up Chinese inflation to 3% in September, from 2.8% the previous month.

The damage that African swine fever has wrecked on China’s pig population is hard to overstate. The country is home to half of all the pigs on the planet, and its herd has shrunk by around 130 million since the outbreak began about 13 months ago, according to a CNN Business analysis of data from the Chinese agricultural ministry.

Many farmers are reluctant to restock pigs after they are slaughtered, fearing they’ll catch the disease.

The swine fever has created a headache for a country where pork is a staple of the diet. Pork makes up around 70% of China’s total meat consumption, according to official data for 2018. On average, a person in China eats 20 kilograms of pork each year.

Put another way, that’s about a hamburger’s worth of pork every day. Pork has been important to Chinese cuisine for hundreds of years. It’s widely used in many famous dishes, including braised Dongpo pork and twice-cooked pork. Pork is also the main filling sed in dumplings, a signature Chinese dish.

By Lauren He, CNN Busness

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