Fat Flies on Hong Kong's Pork Prices

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's pork sellers have ignored the decline in prices they pay wholesalers for the city's most popular meat as they continue to sting wet market shoppers.
calendar icon 11 September 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Despite a fall in prices in the mainland - where Hong Kong gets all its fresh pork - housewives are being charged the same price as before.

And a snap poll of wet market pork sellers yesterday suggested they have little intention of dropping the price any time soon.

China's consumer price index fell for the fourth straight month - to 4.9 percent year on year in August from 6.3 percent in July - taking inflation in the mainland to its lowest point in 14 months.

The downward trend has led to speculation that the Hong Kong government may offer tax cuts and the loosening of credit controls. Consumer watchdogs said there is room for some price relief on pork.

But Hong Kong Polytechnic University associate professor Lau Pui-king said the market prices for food and oil will remain the same in the short term.

The average wholesale price for live pigs yesterday was HK$1,080 per 100 catties compared with HK$1,188 on August 10 and HK$1,252 on July 10, according to the Food and Health Bureau.

Pork Traders General Association of Hong Kong deputy chairman Hui Wai-kin said the average pork wholesale price is about HK$1,000 - and HK$1,200 for that of higher quality - about 0.8 percent lower than the wholesale price in July.

However, prices could go lower if the supply of live pigs stabilizes, he said.

A pork vendor surnamed Lau at the Bowrington Road Market in Causeway Bay said the highest wholesale price last year was about HK$2,400 per 100 catties with a retail price of HK$48 per catty compared with the current wholesale price of HK$1,300 and a retail price of between HK$38 and HK$40 a catty.

"I did not lower the price when the wholesale price dropped to about HK$1,200 a month earlier as I did not want my customers to be dubious about the frequent price fluctuation," Lau said.

A housewife surnamed Lo urged meat vendors to reduce prices by 10 percent.

A spokeswoman for the Consumer Council said there is space for a general price reduction. Vendors can consider selling more products at lower prices while citizens may switch to substitutes such as chilled pork, she said.

Beatrice Siu for The Standard reports that data released yesterday showed the year-on-year increase in the mainland's consumer price index dropped to 4.9 percent last month, far below February's near 12-year high of 8.7 percent.

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