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Chinese cities take drastic action to offset soaring pork prices

Across China, the price of pork has doubled since July, prompting some cities to take the unusual step of offering discounts on the country's favorite meat.

In the southwestern city of Nanning, coupons have been distributed to shoppers since Sunday. The bearer is entitled to a 10% discount on the average price of pork, according to the government-backed Nanning Evening News.

But there is a catch. The discount is only be available at 10 pilot sites. Each local resident restricted to just 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) per day.

Feng Yonghui, chief analyst at meat industry portal Soozhu.com, believes the discounted meat has been taken from the government's frozen pork reserves. Officials have not confirmed the provenance of the pork.

Some residents, who believe the meat had previously been frozen, said they would not buy it despite the discount.

Chinese cities take drastic action to offset soaring pork prices

A photo of the pork coupon issued in Nanning.

"We locals still like to eat fresh meat, it is still hard for us to accept frozen meat. I don't go to the pork stalls often any more because [pork is] too expensive," said Li Liqiong, a 65-year-old Nanning resident.

Li says he has replaced pork with other meats like chicken and fish.

China is experiencing a shortage of pork. Over the past year, the size of China's pig herd has shrunk by more than a third due to outbreaks of African swine fever, which is not harmful to humans, but kills pigs.

Feng says the coupon program in Nanning is part of a national measure that was triggered when the price of pork rose above an unspecified level. He believes similar schemes could be implemented in other areas.

At least two cities in the southeastern province of Fujian are experimenting with discounts.

Over the past year, the size of China's pig herd has fallen by more than a third due to multiple outbreaks of African swine fever.

The Licheng district government in Fujian will, from Friday, offer residents a subsidy of 4 yuan ($.56) per kilogram for pork purchases of up to 2kg per person.

Shoppers in Xiaman, a major city in Fujian, have already been restricted to 2.5kg of subsidized pork per day since the start of August.

Feng expects the measures to remain for the rest of the year as the peak seasonal demand hasn't been reached yet.

The moves come ahead of next week's Mid-Autumn Festival and the week-long National Day holiday at the start of October, when pork consumption would normally be expected to rise.

December's winter solstice and January's Lunar New Year are also peak seasons for pork eating.

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