Chinese government opens strategic pork reserve

Mr. Wang has 400 restaurants spread all over the country, each of them bringing in 600,000 yuan -- that's about $100,000 a year.

JEREMY HOBSON: The United States has a strategic oil reserve. China has a strategic pork reserve. And now, Beijing says it's going to release some of the "other white meat" onto the market. That's because with all the growth in China, pork is in short supply and prices have jumped by more than half in the last year.

The BBC's Andrew Wood reports from Hong Kong.


ANDREW WOOD: The Chinese eat more pork than any other meat. Each of the 1.3 billion people in China consumes on average of one hundred pounds of pork a year. And as the country has gotten richer, it's been consuming more and more of the meat. Patrick Chovanec is an associate professor at Tsinghua University's School of Economics and Management in Beijing. He says pork is a politically sensitive issue because it affects rich and poor across the country.

PATRICK CHOVANEC: People eat in almost every region of China as a basic component of their diet. The total population of pigs in China is 400 million, that's quite a lot of pigs. It's one of the items that people notice, when the price goes up it impacts everyone.

A year ago pork prices were falling, and many pigs were slaughtered to stabilize the price. As a result, farmers now can't keep up with demand.

The government has 450 million pounds of frozen pork in reserve in massive warehouses. That's only a few days worth of consumption though and not nearly enough to keep inflation under control.

In Hong Kong, I'm the BBC's Andrew Wood, for Marketplace.

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