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The Pain of Surging Pork Prices Is Now Being Felt in Vietnam

Mai Ngoc Chau

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African swine fever, the deadly pig disease that drove up China’s pork prices to record levels, is now taking another major consumer of the meat hostage.

The cost of live hogs in Vietnam has skyrocketed to an all-time high due to depleting supplies because of the virus. Pig prices hit 71,000 dong ($3.10) a kilogram on Tuesday, an 18% increase from a month earlier, according to the Vietnam Animal Husbandry Association.

“We’ve never seen live pig prices jump this high,” Nguyen Tat Thang, the association’s general secretary, said by phone.

The soaring cost is piling pressure on the government to take measures to control inflation. Pork was a factor in the 0.59% gain in consumer prices last month, the general statistics office said. The government has ordered ministries, agencies and provinces to try to stabilize live hog prices and ensure adequate pork supplies until the end of this year, with imports an option.

While ordinarily an increase in prices would benefit swine farmers, many are missing out because the disease wiped out most of their herds, said Nguyen Kim Doan, vice head of the Animal Production Association in Dong Nai province, known as Vietnam’s pig capital. The number of hogs plunged 20% in October from a year earlier after almost 6 million were culled or died due to the virus.

With many farmers yet to even begin rebuilding their stock, pig prices are likely to continue surging through next year, according to Doan, who declined to give specific forecasts.

Adding fuel to the rally are growing unofficial shipments of live pigs to China, said Thang at the Vietnam Animal Husbandry Association. Farms and companies are smuggling pigs to China because prices are double those in Vietnam due to a more severe shortage, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mai Ngoc Chau in Ho Chi Minh City at cmai9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Kitanaka at akitanaka@bloomberg.net, James Poole

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