Government Steps in as Bidding Causes Disarray

HONG KONG - A decision by Importers of live pigs to auction live pigs in place of the usual allocation process has left the market in disarray. Retailers and households are now paying inflated rates as fresh pork supplies are running out and prices are soaring to new highs of HK$40 per catty or more.
calendar icon 6 December 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

The importers have refused to abandon the bidding system in favour of an allocation process used in the past. Market leader Ng Fung Hong, which has switched over to competitive bidding for live pigs, said that it was just following other importer's actions.

The Hong Kong Agriculture Special Zone Development Association, one of three importers of live pigs, said Ng Fung Hong was passing the buck to them as the association only supplies 320 pigs - or about six percent of the city's daily consumption.

"Instead of saying Ng Fung Hong is following us, we're actually following them," said chairman Simon Cheng Ka- shing. He has refused to abandon the bidding system to stop prices from being pushed up. "Bidding is conventional for the trade. The higher price of pigs is not caused by the bidding system, but other reasons like limited supply from the mainland, and the rising cost of fuel and agricultural products," he added.

His pigs were auctioned yesterday and reached at about HK$1,600 per hundred catties. Importer Guangnan Hong said it had sold 700 live pigs at an average auction price of HK$1,300 per 100 catties, which is about HK$100 higher than two weeks ago.

Consensus demand
In a bid to alleviate the problems, Hong Kong's Secretary for Food & Health Dr York Chow has urged the three live-pig suppliers to reach a consensus on operating arrangements soon to ensure a stable supply.

The relevant Mainland authorities have been informed of the situation and the Government has been closely monitoring the live-pig supply, which was unstable in the past week. As the new live-pig supplier has been in place for only a few weeks, there are commercial issues the three suppliers must resolve, he added.

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