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Butchers See Huge Decline in Sales as Pork Prices Soar

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Butchers See Huge Decline in Sales as Pork Prices Soar

Grocery shopping in Thailand these days involves more careful thinking and calculating as buyers have watched the prices of pork prices climb steadily in the last few months.

Prices have risen from 150 baht per kilogramme to over 200 baht per kilogram in just two weeks, making it difficult for pork vendors to keep customers. There is growing concern among vendors at Bangkok Noi and Bang Khae wet markets.

Vendors say prices at pig farms and slaughterhouses have increased. According to one vendor, he said he usually buys seven whole pigs a day and sells out. Now his customers are choosing cheaper meat, like chicken, so it is nearly impossible to sell even one.

In Chiang Mai, a pork vendor at Tom Payom market has raised eyebrows by offering her pork at far below market price, telling CityNews, “I can’t mark up prices so much that my customers cannot afford to buy.”. So I’ve taken just a bit of profit to cover our overhead, and that’s about it.”.

At Ton Payom market, the butcher sells pork belly and neck for 168 baht per kilogram, compared to 240 baht at markets across the city. Her pork shoulder is also 166 baht, whereas the market price is now 195 baht.

Chaikit is doing a brisk business and urges other butchers to do the same.

Pork has risen in price dramatically

In the last few weeks, the retail price of pork has risen at least 30%, from 150 baht (S$6.07) per kg to at least 200 baht or more, driven by increasing farming costs and a dwindling supply of pigs due to African swine flu.

Swine Raisers Association of Thailand expects pork prices to spike in the months leading up to Chinese New Year when the demand for pork rises, and the price could hit 300 baht per kilogram.

According to association president Surachai Sutthitham, prices will continue to rise due to limited supply and high feed costs.

As Thailand faces rising inflation and high household debt, the government has implemented various measures to ease consumer pressure. These measures include a ban on live pig exports, price caps on raw materials, and soft loans for farmers.

According to the Department of Livestock Development, African swine fever was detected from a slaughterhouse in the Nakhon Pathom province near Bangkok on Tuesday (Jan 12). The area surrounding the facility has been declared a disease outbreak zone.

African Swine Flu in Thailand

A swine flu outbreak has now been officially confirmed in Thailand. The announcement follows increasing speculation and reports from local bodies that the disease is already decimating pig herds and driving up pork prices.

After public pressure, investigators collected 309 samples of blood and surface swabs from 10 farms and two slaughterhouses last week. One sample tested positive.

Although African swine fever is harmless to humans, it is highly contagious and deadly to pigs. The only way to stop an outbreak is to cull infected pigs and disinfect the farms.

There have also been outbreaks of African swine fever in China and neighbouring countries such as Vietnam.
Thailand’s authorities, however, have repeatedly denied such an outbreak, attributing most farm pig deaths to a different virus called porcine, a reproductive and respiratory syndrome.

The Thai government has banned live pig exports until April 5 to stabilize domestic supplies.

As of this year, Thailand expects to produce 13 million pigs, down from 19 million last year, said Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.

According to the Swine Raisers Association of Thailand, pig farmers have also declined from 200,000 to around 80,000.

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