BEIJING: China’s consumer prices grew at their fastest rate in almost eight years in October driven by a spike in pork prices caused by an outbreak of African swine fever, according to official figures released on Saturday.
The consumer price index (CPI) — a key gauge of retail inflation — hit 3.8 per cent last month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, up from 3.0pc in September and the highest annual rate since January 2012.
Analysts in a Bloomberg News poll had forecast a rate of 3.4pc. Prices of pork, the staple meat in China, have more than doubled in the past year, according to the NBS.
More than a million pigs have been culled due to the widespread outbreaks since African swine fever appeared in August 2018, according to official statistics, but that is widely considered to be an underestimate.
This, in turn, has also pushed up prices of other meats including beef, chicken, duck and eggs as consumers switch to other protein sources. The spike has led the government to intervene to stabilise prices and guarantee supplies, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
“Chinese leaders are terrified of inflation,” Beijing-based research firm Trivium China said in a note, describing price rises as “one of the big drivers behind the 1989 Tiananmen protests”.
Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2019