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Pork prices may rise again as holiday approaches

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In spite of recent tangible results in stabilizing pork prices on account of government intervention measures, prices are expected to surge with the high-demand Dragon Boat Festival season fast approaching, said meat market workers yesterday.

Following government intervention measures, surging pork prices due to the porcine diarrhea outbreak have returned to just under the NT$80-per-kilo benchmark through the Qingming Festival season, however, as the high-demand Dragon Boat Festival season looms, prices are expected surge in June.

Chiayi County meat market employees, however, stated that stability in pork prices may be short lived, saying that the Council of Agriculture's policy of spurring higher volume in live pig supply while limiting procurement amounts allowed by frozen pork processors will be ineffective in containing surging prices in the long-term. Pork prices are expected to return to their rising trajectory following the Dragon Boat Festival, said meat market employees. According to meat industry experts, the government's stabilization policy may be counterproductive in peak demand seasons such as the Dragon Boat Festival.

In addition, Chiayi County meat market workers observed that the average weight of live pigs sold has been declining steadily, tumbling from the range between 118 kg and 120 kg to about 114.9 kg on Thursday. The decline in average weight indicates that supplies are dwindling rapidly, as pig farmers rush to get their stock on the market, according to meat market employees. Meanwhile, a livestock transport employee observed that the number of pigs has been growing sparse while making routine runs across pig farms in Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung.

Meanwhile, a Pingtung-based pig farmers' association stated that recent price hikes are not solely caused by supply shortages caused by the outbreak of disease, but a reflection of the rising cost of feed, while appealing for the public's understanding of inclement prospects faced by suppliers. In addition, as the government has not announced the toll in piglet deaths over last year's porcine diarrhea epidemic, pork prices remain murky as June and July approach, and may likely see further increases, said the association. The association also remarked that due to logistical difficulties in sales to Taiwan's other regional market, pork prices have thus far remained stable in Taitung County.

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