Prices for pork fall on low demand

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Prices for pork fall on low demand

Pork prices have been nose-diving over the past month amid a steep fall in demand, according to the industry yesterday.

The wholesale cost of pork fell to 2,675 won ($2.4) per kilogram as of Sept. 28 - the latest figure available - compared to 3,684 won per kilogram as of Sept. 12, according to the Korea Institute for Animal Products Quality Evaluation - a 27 percent decline in two weeks. In the first week of September, the average wholesale pork price was 4,212 won per kilogram.

The latest price is less than half the price in January of 5,879 won per kilogram. It is one third the price on June 8, which was 8,200 won.

The institute, a public organization overseeing meat product quality, said the number of pigs grown by domestic farms has swollen and demand has fallen due to the sluggish economy.

As of last month, the number of pigs being bred totaled 9.7 million, up from 7 million at the beginning of 2011, after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease led to mass cullings of pigs.

The government considers the lower 4,000 won range per-kilogram is the most appropriate level for wholesale pork prices and thinks the current price will lead to losses for farmers.

The slump in demand is reflected in sales at discount stores. Lotte Mart says its pork sales in the first nine months of the year edged up 1.7 percent on year despite much lower prices. During the summer holiday period between July and August - when consumption is supposed to climax - sales inched up a mere 0.7 percent from a year earlier.

Lotte Mart says it is throwing a promotional event to propel pork sales. “Now that we have entered the season of lower demand for pork after the Chuseok holiday, suppliers are expected to see a pile-up of their pork,” said a merchandizer responsible for pork products at Lotte Mart. From Thursday until Oct. 17, it will sell pork belly, known as samgyeopsal in Korea, at 1,480 won per kilogram. It says it prepared around 150 tons of the meat for sale.

By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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