Pork Is Now a Luxury Item in China

December 20, 2019 Updated: December 20, 2019

A widespread outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) has sent pork prices soaring in China, the leading pig producer and pork consumer in the world.

Based on data released by China’s Ministry of Agriculture, the average wholesale price of pork peaked in late October at 58.58 yuan ($8.36) per kilogram, then eased to the current 43.40 yuan ($6.14) per kilogram, which is still 120 percent higher from a year ago,

ASF spread throughout China’s provinces rapidly, eight months after the first case was detected in Liaoning Province in August 2018. It has also spread to other Asian countries. China’s production of pork likely has been cut in half by the end of this year, which is roughly the loss of 300 million to 350 million pigs, according to RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness, an organization that collects information across all food and agriculture sectors for its parent company Rabobank.

When the price of pork was around 19.7 yuan ($2.81) per kilogram last December, no one would have imagined that even China’s middle-class families can hardly afford to eat pork regularly this year, which happens to be the year of the pig in the Chinese zodiac.

Local Bank Offers Pork as Incentive to Attract New Customers

Banks in China are now working hard to attract new business in order to meet their annual performance quota toward the end of the year. A local bank grabbed the headlines when it offered expensive pork as an incentive for opening a depository account.

Linhai Rural Commercial Bank in Duqiao, Zhejiang Province offered this promotion on Dec. 16. Clients who deposited 10,000 yuan ($1,427) or more for more than three months would enter a lottery to draw a number, and then claim their free gifts. The pork gifts vary in size, most weighing about one pound, and the biggest ones around 5 pounds.

According to Chinese state media, the promotion was a big success, as the bank gave away 1,097 pork gifts, which translates to 1,097 new depository accounts, within one day.

Wedding Guests Gobble Up Pork Within Minutes

A netizen posted a wedding banquet footage online on Nov. 7 to show just how much the Chinese people crave pork.

In the video, when a pork hock dish was served on a table, all eight guests rushed to devour the meat. One of the guests said, “I haven’t had any pork in half a year!”

Showing Off Wealth: A Necklace Made of Pork

The Chinese-language Epoch Times reported that some young and rich Chinese millennials flaunt their wealth with pork, to announce in a humorous way that pork has already become a luxury item. Some people posted photos of themselves on Chinese social media wearing pork around their necks, as if it was fashionable and expensive jewelry. One photo showed a big chunk of pork in a Dior gift box, while another showed an expensive price tag on a piece of pork. Other photos showed freezers that were jam-packed with the expensive meat.