Big-Time Pig Issues

October 18, 2019

Which country owns half of the world’s pigs? China. Similar to how beef is the most consumed protein in Argentina and poultry the most consumed in the United States, pork is the most consumed protein in China. That’s why when a third of the pig population in China dies from African swine fever—a highly contagious virus that is spread by living or dead pigs, as well as by contaminated feed, shoes, machines, and other things that touch the virus—it’s a big deal. After all, what do you think happens when supply decreases for something that people demand? Prices rise for that product, right? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening in China. Because of the dwindling supply of pork, but the same demand, the price of pork has increased significantly over this past year. To make matters worse, pig farmers are not breeding more pigs to maintain the same production levels as they had before the outbreak of swine fever. So, what happens when there is much greater demand than there is supply? Can the government step in and help? The Chinese government is offering pig farmers incentives, such as increased subsidies, to support pig-breeding efforts. China is also looking into releasing some of its emergency supply of frozen pork and importing pork from Europe if the domestic pig situation becomes even more dire. As for some consumers, they’re dealing with the pork shortage by turning to other meats such as beef and chicken!

What do you think China can do to fix its pork production problem?

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