Amid a month-long epidemic affecting young swine that has left pork prices at a 10-year high, the Council of Agriculture said it will urge farmers to resume selling their piglets instead of waiting for prices to climb higher.
Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) has devastated the nation’s swine population since October last year, causing the market price of a piglet to skyrocket to NT$79.71 (US$2.62) per kilogram as of Thursday, breaking the previous record of NT$77.25 per kilogram set on July 28, 2008.
The figure is even higher when frozen pork products are taken out of the picture, standing at a 10-year high of more than NT$80 per kilogram in some markets.
As a result, a number of farmers have chosen to hold on to piglets that are above the standard sale weight of 120kg in the hope that prices will go even higher, with the council saying that some farmers were withholding animals that weighed up to 130kg.
The council urged farmers to reconsider, citing its efforts to put 24,200 more piglets on the market next month to stabilize supply. It added that if this continued, the price of the nation’s primary meat could jump because of acute shortages by the time of the Ghost Festival on Aug. 10.
State-run Taiwan Sugar Corp has agreed to sell piglets weighing less than 115kg to help adjust supplies ahead of the nearest holiday, Dragon Boat Festival on June 2, the council said.
The number of pigs succumbing to PED is dropping, according to official numbers.
The council said that 40,000 piglets died of the disease last month, down from the peak of 70,000 in January.