Meat Companies, PED Blamed for Taiwan's High Pork Prices

TAIWAN - The agriculture council has completed an investigation into the cause of a spike in pork prices, which has been blamed on a shortage of supply resulting from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) and on collusion by meat companies.
calendar icon 13 March 2014
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The Council of Agriculture (COA) said it has submitted its investigation report on complaints about soaring pork prices — including information on five frozen meat companies suspected of hoarding the meat — to the Fair Trade Commission.

According to Taipei Times, the outbreak of the PED that began in October last year caused nearly 220,000 piglets to die of the viral disease.

Because of the epidemic, the council said earlier this year that pork might be in short supply in June or July, which could affect pork prices around the Dragon Boat Festival and Chungyuan Festival (also known as the Ghost Festival).

However, pork prices have skyrocketed much earlier than expected, with prices in some markets surging past TWD80 per kilogram recently.

To stem the price increases, the council set up a 'pork price stability team' earlier this month.

COA Deputy Minister Hu Hsing-hua said prices had risen from about TWD80 (US$2.65) per kilogram before the Lunar New Year holiday to about TWD83 per kilogram after the holiday.

Animal Husbandry Department Deputy Director, Chu Ching-cheng, said the council had finished inspecting 29 frozen meat companies across the nation and found that among the top 10 suppliers — which together account for about 87 per cent of the market — five were suspected of irregular transactions.

Mr Hu declined to name the companies, saying the council had submitted the results of its investigation — including the five companies and information gathered from 22 meat markets — to the commission for further investigation on whether the five colluded to drive up pork prices.

As for the frozen meat company reportedly found stocking more than 1,500 tonnes of pork, Mr Chu said the company is among the five companies found to have conducted irregular transactions.

The council’s report also showed that the average price of pork at 22 meat markets on 10 March was TWD80.88, dropping slightly from TWD81.80 on Saturday last week.

COA Deputy Minister Wang Cheng-teng said that companies found to be hoarding pork to drive up prices may be fined based on the Fair Trade Act.

Taipei Times adds that violators may be fined up to TWD25 million if it is proven that they have engaged in cartel-like behaviour.

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