Price fears as pig import ban set

Local | Charlotte Luo 14 Aug 2019

Pig imports from the mainland are expected to be suspended today after two pigs from Guangdong on their way to Hong Kong were found dead - the third African swine fever outbreak in three months. The price of pork is expected to increase further with the suspension, traders said.

A source said the two pigs from a farm in Guangdong were found dead at a phytosanitary station at Qingshui River in Shenzhen on Tuesday. They tested positive for African swine fever.

The batch they were in, around 150 pigs in four trucks, was prevented from entering Hong Kong.

Hui Wai-kin, secretary-general of the Pork Traders General Association of Hong Kong, said the Qingshui River station has been closed for cleaning and disinfection.

"I don't know when the station will reopen. It depends on the [Shenzhen] government," he said.

Hui said recent pig supply from the mainland has dropped to 40 to 50 percent from past levels, keeping prices high, and the latest development could increase prices further.

According to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, pig supply from the mainland is not expected today. Some 100 pigs will be supplied from local farms.

Yesterday's pig auction prices were between HK$3,750 and HK$4,480 per 100 catties (60 kilograms), with an average of HK$4,153 per 100 catties. There were 1,155 pigs imported from the mainland.

In comparison, 1,938 pigs were imported from the mainland on August 1 at an average price of HK$2,382 per 100 catties - 74 percent lower than yesterday.

When Hong Kong detected its first case of African swine flu, around 6,000 pigs imported from Guangdong were culled at Sheung Shui slaughterhouse on May 13 and May 14.

A further 4,700 pigs were culled at the same slaughterhouse in the second African swine flu case at the end of May.

The Centre for Food Safety says African swine fever does not infect humans, but it advises people to always cook pork thoroughly before consumption.

The disease, which is lethal for pigs, has spread to every province in the mainland since it was first detected in the northeastern city of Shenyang on August 2, 2018.

The agriculture ministry in Beijing said Thursday it has lowered forecasts for corn consumption in the 2019/20 crop year by two million tonnes due to a huge decrease in pig herds.

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