whats behind the steep jump in pork prices - What’s behind the steep jump in pork prices?

Swine production last year dropped to 19 million heads from 20 million in the previous year. One million heads were exported while the rest was for domestic consumption, he said.  

Experts attribute a number of factors to the decline in production. 

Domestic consumption has seen a drop since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 due to lockdown restrictions and the sharp fall in foreign tourists. The slide in pork prices due to the demand-supply phenomenon forced many farmers out of business. 

An epidemic outbreak in pigs last year was also blamed for the decline in swine production. Severe floods in many provinces resulted in the epidemic spreading to pigs. The rising cost of preventing the epidemics as well as the cost of animal feed also forced the closure of many small farmers’ businesses.    

Policy ‘failure’

Animal feed accounts for 60-70 per cent of swine production cost. The prices of commodities, such as soybean and maize which are used for animal feed, were at a record high last year globally. Maize in Thailand hit a high of Bt12.50 per kilogram. 

“The government implemented an income guarantee scheme for maize growers without taking into account its impact on swine farmers,” Valan Sattha, a livestock expert, wrote in his article published by Matichon online.    

Govt accused of cover-up

Pheu Thai MP for Phayao Wisuth Chainaroon accused the government of hiding from the public the fact that African Swine Fever (ASF) had been spreading in the country for three years.

Government officials deny the accusation. They, however, admitted to outbreaks of less severe diseases such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, porcine epidemic diarrhoea and foot-and-mouth disease. 

Volatile consumer demand

According to the Swine Raisers Association of Thailand, Thai pork demand increased at the average rate of 0.66 per cent per year from 2016-20, and approximately 84.75 per cent of total production volume are mainly used for domestic consumption. In 2020 pig consumption fell to 1.30 million tons, down 11.56 per cent from 2019, due to lockdown measures implemented in Thailand to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which dealt a blow to tourism and the service sectors. 

During the same period — 2016-20 — global pork consumption decreased at 3.49 per cent per year. In 2020, global pork consumption amounted to 97.48 million tons, down from 100.94 million tons in 2019. 

Most countries saw a decline in consumption as a result of the lockdown measures to reduce the spread. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, countries affected by ASF are unable to produce enough pork to meet consumer demand, resulting in higher prices.