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Soaring pork prices hog headlines and sow discontent in China

ECONOMISTS RARELY think about the average gestation period of pigs (115 days) or the length of time a sow needs to reach sexual maturity (roughly six months). But in China, a basic knowledge of hog-breeding cycles is part of the job. Pigs are so central to the Chinese diet that the ups and downs of pork prices have an outsized impact on inflation. Once again, porcine expertise is in demand: African swine fever has devastated China’s pigs, complicating its economic outlook.New data show that pork prices leapt by 23% in August from July, the highest monthly jump on record. On an annual basis they were up by 47%. The feed-through to broader inflation has been modest so far. But pork is certain to become more costly in the coming months, pushing consumer prices up further (see chart).
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