Pork Shortage Has Thailand Banning Exports Ahead of Lunar New Year Demand
(Bloomberg) -- Thailand imposed a ban on exports of live pigs for three months to cool a rally in prices amid a shortage of the meat.
Overseas shipments will be prohibited until April 5 and the Commerce Ministry will monitor the situation to assess whether the ban needs to be extended further, according to a government statement on Thursday.
The ban came after domestic pork prices surged to about 250 baht per kilograms in some regions from about 150 baht ($7.5) on average a few months ago. The rates may jump to 300 baht per kilogram ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations, when demand of pork rises, according to estimates from the Swine Raisers Association of Thailand.
“Prices will continue to rise because there’s limited supply and feed costs are very high with no signs of improvement,” said Surachai Sutthitham, the association’s president. On Wednesday, the group discussed a dozen measures with the government that also included increasing imports and subsidizing hog raisers, Surachai said.
The Southeast Asian nation currently exports about 5% of its live hogs annually to neighboring countries including Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.
As Thailand relaxed restrictions on businesses and inbound travel late last year, demand for pork went up, said Prapat Pothasuthon, deputy minister of agriculture. He said that in the short term, banning exports will balance supply with demand, while in the longer term the government will promote raising more hogs and producing more feed locally.
There are about 190,000 raisers in Thailand who together produce some 20 million hogs per year, with 95% of them smallholders. Over the past two years, measures to prevent the spread of African swine fever and Covid-19 and rising feed and drug prices for hogs led some raisers to reduce production, said Prapat.
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