On Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong declared the formation of the People’s Republic of China, with a ceremony and a public parade taking place in Tiananmen Square that day. Seventy years later, the Chinese still celebrate the National Day of the People’s Republic of China, with a variety of government-organized festivities, including fireworks, concerts, sporting and cultural events throughout mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. However, as the public holiday kicks off Tuesday, and another six days of celebration follows, the big question surrounding this year’s Golden Week will be: Does China have enough pork for the party?
Pork is in short supply in China because African swine fever has ravaged the Chinese hog herd and significantly reduced the production of pork. According to Xinhua, China released 10,000 more metric tons of pork from its central reserves to ensure there is enough market supply for the national holiday. This is on top of the 20,000 metric tons of reserve pork, 2,400 metric tons of reserve beef and 1,900 metric tons of reserve mutton released since early September. The Ministry of Commerce has also assured that the price of protein will be stable.
However, even with a guaranteed adequate and affordable meat supply this week, some Chinese are turning up their noses to frozen pork and beef, as it can be difficult to change taste preferences at the drop of a hat. Instead, many are opting to still purchase fresh pork, but not as much.
I can understand the Chinese sentiment there surrounding the National Day celebrations and their preference for pork on their platters. Halloween is just around the corner. Can you imagine not having enough candy to go around the country for the trick-or-treaters? What if we didn’t have enough turkey to go around Thanksgiving Day? Chicken would be an OK substitute I guess to mix with the gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes, but what if an avian influenza break took that protein away, too?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a pork fanatic. It’s a staple in our home. I can’t imagine Christmas or Easter without that traditional holiday ham and having to celebrate with mutton instead.
With China recently exempting purchases of U.S. soybeans, pork and other agricultural products from the tariffs, I hope this action not only leads to more sales of U.S. pork, but also contributes to a resolution of U.S.-China trade restrictions. I hope for the Chinese sake that this year’s National Day pork shortage is just a 2019 issue and that in 2020, even if ASF is still breaking there, they have an ample supply of fresh pork they can source from countries willing and able to help, such as the United States. I hope our U.S. herd remains ASF-free and we are still able to bring the pork to the party.