Fri, May 23, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Pork prices likely to rise: council

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen yesterday consecrates a dragon boat by painting its eyes at a wharf in Dongshih Township as the county prepared for next month’s dragon boat races.

PHOTO: CNA

Pork prices will likely increase in the near future to reflect the rising cost of raising pigs, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday at its first press conference for new minister Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄). Domestic consumers should be assured, however, that there will be no shortage of pork during the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival.

“The inflation of pork prices comes mainly from the rising price of animal feed. For example, a bushel [25.4kg] of corn cost US$2.50 two years ago, but as of May 11 it cost US$6.37,” the council’s Livestock Administration Division chief Huang Ying-hao (黃英豪) said.

The cost today of producing 100kg of pork is about NT$6,500, Huang said, adding that at NT$7,200 to NT$7,400 per 100kg, “the profit margin is within reasonable levels.”

Citing data from neighboring countries, Huang said that domestic pork prices were among the lowest on the international market.

“In early April in Beijing, pork was NT$9,240 per 100kg, while prices were well over NT$8,000 in Japan,” he said.

Addressing speculation by television news stations yesterday that there may be either a shortage or steep increase in pork prices ahead of the upcoming festival, Huang urged the public not to panic as pork supplies in the short term would likely remain stable.

The increase in demand for zongzi, a rice dumpling containing braised pork that is traditionally eaten as part of the celebrations, means domestic demand for the meat rises sharply from between 21,000 and 23,000 pigs a day to between 33,000 and 35,000 pigs a day the week before the festival Huang said.

However, “while the COA respects normal market mechanisms [and would not interfere with natural inflation], we are making every effort to allocate stocks from various sources of pork to make sure that there is enough supply to satisfy market demand,” he said.

Pork will not be the only commodity expected to rise in price soon: The prices of sticky rice and fertilizers are also expected to increase.

“There has been a shortage of fertilizer because their prices have been frozen over the past few years and because of increased manufacturing costs, many privately owned businesses have ceased production to avoid losses,” Chen said.

To balance fertilizer supply and demand, the COA planned to announce a new set price next Thursday to better reflect their manufacturing costs, he said.

Farmers will be partially subsidized for the increase in prices, Chen said.

“More importantly, to encourage greener farming, we will also teach farmers how to reduce fertilizer usage while maintaining maximized production and quality,” he said.

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