China says pork supplies up, prices down in Sep

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BEIJING, Sep 16 (Reuters) China's high pork prices, which contributed to a decade-high inflation rate last month, have fallen more than 11 per cent in early September from August, Xinhua news agency reported, reflecting an increase in supplies of live pigs.

Pork prices had shot up recently due to an outbreak of blue-ear disease and reduced incentives to rear hogs, helping to push annual consumer inflation to 6.5 per cent in August, the fastest pace since December 2006.

Food accounts for a third of the consumer price basket, and that was heavily affected by prices of meat and poultry, which surged 49 per cent from year-ago levels.

China raised interest rates on Friday for the fifth time this year, quickening the pace of monetary tightening days after the jump in inflation was reported.

Economists said the increase, the second in just over three weeks, betrayed growing anxiety within China's ruling Communist party about rising prices.

Yesterday, Chinese Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai said the price of country's staple meat had fallen 11.3 per cent in the month to September. 5, Xinhua reported. A kilogram of pork cost 18.98 yuan (2.53 dollar), down from 21.4 yuan (2.85 dollar) in early August.

At the same time, live pigs in stock rose by 3.4 per cent compared with the previous month, and Sun said the number of pigs ready for sale rose 9.9-per cent from the year-ago level, according to the Xinhua report.

The number of sows in stock nationwide rose 3.8 per cent in August from a month earlier, the minister said.

Central and local governments have provided subsidies totalling 2.365 billion yuan (315 million dollar) to encourage farms or individuals to raise sows for breeding, the People's Daily reported today. Nearly 1.7 billion yuan (240 million dollar) in additional incentives was also being prepared for distribution, it said.

Sun said cases of blue ear pig disease were down by 52 per cent in July from a month earlier, with pig deaths from the disease falling 36 per cent over the level in June, Xinhua reported.

He did not provide August figures, but ministry officials last week said the disease has sickened 280,000 pigs and killed 70,000 so far this year, with the disease still lingering in seven provinces.

On Thursday, the ministry vowed to step up efforts to assure sufficient supplies of safe pork ahead of national holidays at the end of September and early October.


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