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Thailand stops export of pork for 3 months to limit price increase

Thailand decided to ban pork exports for 3 months to reduce pressure on rising prices as production decreased.

Pork chop
Thailand has experienced a steep increase in price for pork in few months | © Cindie Hansen, 2020

From January 6, Thailand bans export of its pigs in an attempt to reduce price increases on pork in the country.

The ban will last three months until April 5. The ministry of Commerce will monitor the situation and assess if there's need to renew the ban.

Price of Thai pigs quickly increased in the last few months because of higher swine production costs and diseases disseminating farms. Authorities hope the ban would help domestic supply and smooth the inflation.

Overall, inflation in Thailand is moderate, at 1.5% in 2021 according to official data, despite somehow higher rates for some food. The International Monetary Fund reports a 0.9% inflation for the year, and even deflation in 2020 for Thailand.

But the African swine fever caused important deaths among pigs and piglets in Thailand and neighboring countries recently. The Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome has also affected the country's production since 2020.

Pork has become 40% to 67% more expensive since May when prices started to increase according to the Bangkok Post.

Demand during end-of-year festivities remained high and is expected to continue with the Chinese new year period in February.

Similarly, Argentina has been banning export of beef in order to limit inflation and Indonesia stopped export of coal to meet its domestic demand.

Higher production costs and fewer farmers

Production costs such as corn and soybeans also increased in Thailand, and plenty of Thai farmers gave up on swine production. The swine raiser association of Thailand considered farmers' debts were a massive issue as the country only counts 80,000 pig farmers now instead of 200,000.

In 2021, there were approximately 19 million pigs produced in Thailand. One million was exported, the other 18 million heads were consumed locally.

This year, only 13 million swine are expected to grow, resulting in a shortage of 5 million animals for domestic consumption - 4 million if the country completely stops its export.

Authorities asked a report on the stocks of the largest players across the industry. They also asked retailers to clearly label the price of pork to make sure those set by authorities are respected. Thai authorities control regional prices of 51 products and services, including pork.

Thailand also plans to increase production of sows to boost breeding and have more pigs. The country wants to produce more maize in order limit imports and production costs.

Thai authorities expect prices to normalize in 4 months.

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