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A Pig of a Problem

Globally, we consume more than 100 million tons of pork per year. The Chinese, slightly less than 20 percent of the world’s population, consume more than half of it. Trotters to the fore: when the Chinese pork market gets the jitters, so does the global economy.

This year, thanks to an outbreak of African swine flu, 1.2 million pigs have been culled in China, and pork prices have more than doubled. Closely followed, of course, by the prices of all the potential pork substitute products.

All in all, accelerating food prices have contributed to push the Chinese CPI to its highest point in 8 years. Chinese consumers are forced to tighten their belts – and not only because they can’t put char sui sauce on their favourite protein. Reduced spending and consumer confidence ultimately wobbles the balance of payments, sending the problem ricocheting beyond borders.

At this point, the Australian agriculture services are confident ASF has not reached our shores. Being an island has its bonuses, though a quick viewing of Channel 7’s Border Security assures you we are not without threats.

And think the situation is improving? Pigs might fly…

…South, it would seem.

This month new outbreaks have eased in China, but have grown exponentially in neighbouring Vietnam. 2019 might be the lunar Year of the Pig, but celebrations in early 2020 might be more accurately reflected by the incoming Year of the Rat.