China to sell pork from stockpiles to dampen price
BEIJING (AP) -- China's government will sell pork from stockpiles to dampen inflation that pushed up the price of its staple meat by 57 percent last month, the Commerce Ministry said Friday.
Beijing will release both frozen pork and live pigs into the market, said a ministry spokesman, Yao Jian. He gave no details but said some local governments began to sell their own stockpiles last month.
"We will release both central and local reserves into the market in due time," Yao said at a regular ministry briefing.
Economists blame China's inflation spike on higher demand driven by rising incomes that is outstripping food supplies and a flood of bank lending that was part of Beijing's response to the 2008 global economic crisis.
Inflation is politically dangerous for the ruling communists because it undermines the public's economic gains and might fuel unrest.
China is expected to produce about 51.5 million tons of pork this year, up 3 percent from 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Food inflation has been boosted in recent weeks by summer floods that damaged crops in China's south and east.
Yao said the jump in pork prices has been driven by higher grain costs, fewer pigs being raised and higher labor costs.
China's top economic official, Premier Wen Jiabao, ordered local leaders last weekend to take steps to ensure adequate pork supplies and hold down prices, according to a Cabinet statement.
Wen said ensuring stable pork prices is the government's "unavoidable responsibility."
Copyright 2011 The AP.