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May 27, 2017

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April consumer price index up 1.65 percent year-on-year

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- April's consumer price index (CPI) was pegged at 103.73, up 1.65 percent from a year ago and the highest increase in 14 months, according to a report released by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) yesterday.

The rise in food prices contributed the largest share to the CPI increase. In sequence of increase, fruit prices rose 19.3 percent, meat rose 13.79 percent, aquatic products 8.4 percent and wheat products 2.7 percent. Costs of dining out also rose 3.03 percent, which was the highest hike since March 2009.

DGBAS Deputy Director Tsai Yu-tai (蔡鈺泰) pointed out that prices of pork and chicken grew 14.82 percent and 16.11 percent, respectively, both of which are the highest increases since August 2008.

In regard to other product and service categories, prices of clothing, dwelling, medicine, education and miscellaneous products and services grew 2.1 percent, 0.75 percent, 0.8 percent, 0.11 percent and 1.57 percent, respectively. Prices of transportation and communication products and services dipped 0.54 percent.

The downward trend for prices of communication and electronics products partially offset price increases in other products, the DGBAS said.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) registered 96.84, declining 0.57 percent from the preceding month, and moving up 0.12 percent compared with the same month of 2013.

Pork Price Nears NT$80 per Kilogram

With the Duanwu Festival approaching and food demand set to increase in preparation for traditional zongzi (sticky rice dumplings), the DGBAS forecast the CPI to further increase in May.

A shortage in pork supply due to a diarrhea outbreak at pig farms has contributed to rising pork prices. According to the National Animal Industry Foundation's (NAIF) statistics, pork's wholesale prices recently reached NT$79.87 per kilogram. The NAIF predicted the price to increase further, thanks to higher demand during the festival.

With the pork shortage, imported pork has filled in the gap, said Huang Kuo-ching (黃國青) of the Council of Agriculture (COA). About 4,500 tons of pork were imported in April.

The COA also plans to breed more chickens between June and September, with the goal to increase the number by 100,000 per month, in an effort to provide abundant pork alternatives to local consumers. By then, weekly chicken supply will grow from 3.65 million to 4 million, the COA said.

According to the NAIF, prices of free-range chicken have dropped to NT$41 per catty (600 grams), the lowest since May 2012. The retail price for half a chicken is currently pegged at NT$250, the NAIF said.

CPI of Other Nations

Taiwan's CPI was only higher than Singapore's, according to the DGBAS' report. Taiwan's CPI rose 1.01 percent between January and April. South Korea's CPI rose 1.2 percent in the same period.

CPIs in other nations between January and March, from highest to lowest, are Hong Kong (4.1 percent), mainland China (2.3 percent), Japan (1.5 percent), the United States (1.4 percent) and Singapore (1 percent).

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