|Customers buy pork at a local market in Đông Hà City, Quảng Trị Province. Since October, due to the effect of African swine fever, local pork prices have increased by more than 20 per cent from the same period last year. VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Thuỷ|
HÀ NỘI — Ignoring pork, 56 -year-old Nguyễn Thị Hà instead selects a pack of chicken at a Lotte Mart in Hà Nội.
Since October, due to African swine flu, local pork prices have increased by more than 20 per cent from last year, and for prime cuts the cost is even higher. For example, good quality pork belly now costs nearly double at VNĐ150,000-200,000.
As the price of pork increases, so do local favourites like bánh mỳ phố Huế, which is a baguette loaded with pork pâté that has gone up to VNĐ30,000 from VNĐ25,000.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Đỗ Thắng Hải forecast a shortage of more than 200,000 tonnes of pork yesterday, so Hải’s ministry is planning to allow more imports to meet local demand.
At the same time, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has proposed reducing the import tax on pork from 25 per cent to 22 per cent. According to the MoF, the most-favoured nation (MFN) tariff will bring more pork from the US, Brazil and Poland to the table at lower prices. A representative from the MoF said: “Consumers will be happy with the tax breaks.”
With a population of nearly 100 million, Việt Nam is one of the world's top pork consumers and second in Asia, only after China. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), 70 per cent of all meat consumed in the country was pork.
According to the Department of Livestock Production, in the first nine months Việt Nam imported 14,824 tonnes of pork, which was higher than the total imported in 2018.
While no official prices have been set for imported meat by Vietnamese authorities, prices of imported pork products on offer in supermarkets in Hà Nội are mostly double that of local pork.
Most imported pork is frozen and comes from the US, Canada, Spain, Germany and Poland.
Consumer Nguyễn Thị Hà never uses imported pork when she cooks but said she was happy with the tax cut if it made prices cheaper.
Hà, who cooks lunch and dinner for four people every day, told Việt Nam News: “Most of our favourite meals contain pork. Higher prices have forced me to lower the amount of pork I use and my husband is not happy.”
“When pork prices increased, they also put up prices of other things in the market, saying it was because of pork prices. It is ridiculous but we had no choice but to accept it,” she said.
Trần Thị Nga, the owner of a bún chả (vermicelli with grilled pork and fresh herbs) restaurant on Đội Cấn Street in the capital told Việt Nam News: “I've lost some regular customers after putting the price up VNĐ10,000 per serving but I have no other choice. The pork prices keep rising.”
Nga said if imported pork was cheaper than local produce, she would take that option. “Wherever the pork comes from, I can turn it into delicious bún chả,” she added.
However, Nguyễn Kim Đoán, vice chairman of the Đồng Nai Livestock Association, is not happy at all.
The southeastern province of Đồng Nai is the country’s largest pork producer with a herd of 1.4 million pigs. The association was worried the tax break for imported pork could put local pig farmers at risk, he said. — VNS