Pork Price Spirals As Controls Fail

Source: Vientiane Times

Authorities have been unable to cap the price of pork, which has now risen above the price set during the Covid-19 pandemic, and are trying to find a way to keep prices down.

Pork is one of several basic food items whose price is controlled by the government. A maximum retail price has been set to prevent traders from increasing their prices arbitrarily.

Over the New Year holiday in 2019 the Vientiane Industry and Commerce Department set the price of pork at 36,000 kip per kg for grade A meat and 33,000 kip for grade B. At New Year in 2020 the price was revised to 44,000 kip per kg for grade A meat and 41,000 kip for grade B.

But grade A pork is currently selling for about 50,000 kip per kg while grade B meat costs 45,000 kip, with prices varying across the city’s markets.

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A Vientiane vendor, Ms Phay, said she sells grade A pork for 50,000 kip per kilogramme because she has to buy it at a high price.
Meanwhile, the price of pork purchased from Vietnam, Thailand and China is also rising.

Authorities acknowledge that the price of pork is continuing to rise but have not been able to pinpoint the main reasons for the increase.

Officials in the relevant sectors are working together to examine the causes and seek solutions.

It is thought the price increase may be due to the increased costs incurred by farmers, especially the rising cost of pig feed and other items, a Vientiane vendor observed.

In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected businesses that import products and materials needed for pig farming from neighbouring countries.

A shortage of pigs has also been suggested as the main reason for the spiralling price of pork. Canny shoppers have observed that the price of pork rises when the supply of pigs drops.

The cost of pigs sold at the farm has risen to 26,000-28,000 kip per kg in Vientiane, while in the provinces it has risen to 30,000-33,000 kip, according to the Vientiane Foodstuff state enterprise.

In the past, pigs have been brought from the provinces to Vientiane to supply the capital’s market. Today Vientiane’s pig farmers are selling their animals to buyers in the provinces because the price of pigs in the capital is cheaper.

Widespread flooding last year and an outbreak of African swine fever killed thousands of pigs on farms, which resulted in a shortage of pigs for market supply.