Dog and Rabbit Meat Back on the Menu in China’s Rural Communities

08:28AM Oct 22, 2019
Supermarket in Loudi City, Hunan Province
How will China's options at the meat counters change as pork becomes more expensive and hard to find?
( Taoqi Shao )

As the price of pork surges across China due to supply shortages caused by outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF), more and more rural communities are putting dog and rabbit meat back on the menu.

Some restaurants are not serving pork because of the price of China’s most popular meat, a South China Morning Post article said on Tuesday.

A move to more dog meat is just one of the side effects that a massive pork shortage is creating across China, the article said.

The potential for social unrest among low-income groups is pushing China toward a trade deal, Arlan Suderman told Farm Journal’s PORK last week.

“The price of pork has basically doubled,” he says. “One of the ways we’re seeing prices ration demand is by restaurants unwilling to pay the higher price.”

For people in the city, pork is available, but at extremely high prices. South China Morning Post reports that the price of lean pork is around $10 per kilogram – more than double a year ago.

Consumers are reluctant to buy pork at that price so supermarkets are promoting rabbit. Prices for rabbit are nearly $2 cheaper than normal at $6.50 per kilogram. 

Meanwhile, in some rural areas, pork is nearly impossible to find as many pig farmers are not able to stay in business.

“It's not only expensive, but it’s also hard to purchase pork meat in rural villages,” Liu Gang, a villager in Jian county in Jiangxi told South China Morning Post. “Many pigs died in nearby pig farms due to African swine fever earlier this year.”

This problem will not go away anytime soon. China’s National Bureau of Statistics said the average price of pork nationwide shot up 69% in September from a year earlier, pushing the consumer price index up to 3%, the limit of Beijing’s inflation tolerance for 2019. Prices are expected to rise further given the continued decline in the country’s stock of pigs, the article said.

China’s demand for pork is so significant that analysts say there is no way the supply gap can be filled. Although U.S. pork is well placed to supply some of the demand as trade access improves, price and availability are already resulting in Chinese consumers making the switch to other protein sources.

More from Farm Journal’s PORK:

No Pork Today: Will Shortages Cause Social Unrest in China?

African Swine Fever: Not Going Away Anytime Soon

Will African Swine Fever Push Consumers to Alternative Proteins?

China Buys Record Volume of Pork

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