PETALING JAYA: Livestock farmers are urging the government to step in to help moderate the price of pork as this commodity is expected to see another increase next month due to disease outbreaks and higher operation costs.
Pork traders say that current farm prices for live pigs, which is trading at RM13.50 per kg, is expected to go up next month.
According to the Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations of Malaysia (FLFAM), the price hike was induced by the spike in operating costs coupled with the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in several states.
The surge, described as the “highest increase in history”, was due to the unstable price of animal feed and the swine fever outbreak.
The Penang representative for FLFAM as well as the chairman of the Penang Pig Farmers Association, Wong Fu Sheng, said the price of pig feed, which used to be RM800 per tonne, now costs RM2,000 per tonne.“Raw materials are costly, and operating costs are high too; thus, total costs have gone up by 50% to 60%,” he added.
ASF is destroying pig farms, and there is no vaccine to protect the pigs, with the only control measure currently being culling of infected pigs, and disinfection of the farm.
“It takes six to nine months to clear the farm and repopulate them with (other) animals,” he said.
Malaysia Pork Meat Traders’ Association chairman Chow Poh Yue hoped the government would intervene to prevent pork prices from skyrocketing.
“The government should try to manage soaring pork prices. Everything is going up now, and hawkers are crying foul, while the people are also struggling.”
He claimed that pig farms had been raising prices indiscriminately, and the government should step in, especially since the Chinese New Year is just around the corner (Jan 22, 2023).
According to pork traders, this is the ninth increase this year, and it’s time for the government to intervene.
Chow also questioned why local pork (animals raised in Malaysia) prices are higher than imported ones.
“Why are pork prices in Asian countries increasing? Denmark’s price (for live pigs) are RM400 per 100kg, Thailand is RM1,300 per 100kg, while Malaysia is at RM1,350 per 100kg.”
Chow warned that if local farms keep increasing prices, consumers and businesses will turn to imported frozen pork.
He said consumers who had felt the pinch have been buying less local pork over the last few months.
“We used to slaughter 120 pigs daily, now only 30 pigs. Due to ASF, the market is seeing a shortfall of 30,000 live pigs a month,” he said, adding that if the situation is prolonged, some 3,000 pork retailers may have to close shop.
Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chefs Association president, Wong Teu Hoon, said pork belly prices increased from RM23.50 per kg in January to RM30 in August, leading restaurant owners to adjust menu prices.
“We can’t keep raising prices as there will come a point where consumers won’t be able to take it. For now, we have to adjust by using cheaper ingredients to manage rising pork prices,” he said.