This Is Why Pork Is Getting More Expensive

Published on May 22, 2019

If you needed a reason to quit eating meat, there’s nothing like a deadly disease that wipes away entire populations of pigs to convince you. A disease that effects pigs is currently making its way around China. The mysterious fever is causing meat prices around the world to steadily rise as we go further into 2019. Since meat companies source a lot of their products from China, and since China is having to import a lot of its pork to make up for a loss in product, prices are expected to stay on the high end indefinitely.

The Fever

A mysterious fever began inflicting pigs on meat farms around China back in December. CNN reports that over the course of 2019, as many as 1/3 of China’s pigs may be lost due to the disease. Experts are calling it African Swine Fever (ASF for short) and it’s decimating the meat industry throughout Asia, causing changes in the rest of the world’s production and demand. What was once in China has now spread throughout Vietnam and Cambodia. The epidemic is leading to increased concerns over how these heavily populated areas will deal with a loss in meat.

African Swine Fever is deadly to pigs, but harmless to humans. What began as a small epidemic in pig farms around the Hebei province of China quickly turned into a major epidemic. Whole pig farms have been wiped out, seeing as many as 800 pigs die from the disease in a single day. Now, the government is trying hard to contain the disease, which is different from other swine flu’s.

The Meat Industry

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Association reports that around 1 million pigs have died from ASF since the first case was recorded back in August of 2018. It started in northeast China and quickly spread west, until dozens of pig farms were being wiped out at a time. As the Chinese Government works to contain ASF, restaurants and produce companies are having to order pork from as far as Europe in order to meet demand around China. China, and its surrounding areas like Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, consume more than half of the worlds pork.

As many as 200 million animals may be impacted over the next few months. In China, that’s only 1/3 of the animals that are kept for meat farming purposes. For the rest of the world, though, that’s a lot. 200 million encompasses far more animals than in the U.S. and Europe combined. A massive shift in food production could lead to other major shortages around the world. Since pork is eaten heavily in so many parts of the world, this could lead to a major food shortage.

For right now, though, the shortage of pork in China has only led to price increases around the world—particularly in Eastern countries. Many Chinese dishes contain pork as the meat is a staple in a traditional diet. So the loss of an entire meat industry means more than just having to look for alternatives to the meat. Maybe it’s time for everyone to switch to Impossible Foods?

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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