Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.
For months, pork prices in China have risen steadily as the country battles an epidemic of African swine fever, a disease that is not harmful to humans but is fatal to pigs. Government data released this week showed a 50 percent increase in pork prices in August compared to the same time last year. Pork is a favorite among Chinese consumers, and with several major holidays around the corner, authorities are treating the shortage as a “national priority.”
China first declared the outbreak of African swine fever in August 2018, and since then, cases have been reported in all of its 26 provinces. As of July, the country had lost more than 100 million pigs—more than a third of the total population—to the disease, according to CNN. Farmers and industry observers in China say that many cases have gone unreported, signaling that the extent of the epidemic is likely even more severe than official data suggests. Some analysts estimate that Chinese pork production could fall by half by the end of the year, representing a loss of 300 to 350 million pigs.