For kineserne er prisen på gris hva bensinprisen er for amerikanerne. Den senere tid har den gjort solide byks. Stigende priser i Kina, betyr høyere priser i den industrialiserte verden.
Verden har hittil flytt på lave priser på Kinas eksport. Det har holdt inflasjonen nede til tross for en vekst uten sidestykke. Nå kan eventyret gå mot slutten.
En kombinasjon av faktorer samvirker. Hovedfaktoren er at kineserne er blitt rikere og spiser mer kjøtt og gris er favoritten. Samtidig er mais blitt dyrere, det samme er medisiner.
Akkurat som amerikanerne har sitt strategiske oljelager har kinesiske myndigheter et strategisk lager av levende gris. De teller nå på knappene om de skal slakte flere hundre tusen gris.
Steep increases for pork loins and bacon are the most tangible sign that after a decade in which prices have fluctuated but not moved significantly upward, inflation is creeping back into China. In response to this pressure at home, Chinese companies are starting to raise prices for exports, removing what has been a brake on inflation in the West.
With the global economy expanding at a robust pace, and prices rising in fast-developing countries like India and Mexico, central bankers and investors are becoming concerned. Interest rates are inching up in the United States and Europe as lenders demand that borrowers pay more to offset the erosion of buying power over time.
Business executives say that with wages rising 10 percent or more a year in many Chinese cities, the country’s days are numbered as the world’s lowest-cost producer of many cheap labor-intensive products, like toys and shoes.
«People tend to underestimate the deflationary impact over the last 10 years» from Chinese exports, said Michael R. P. Smith, the chief executive of HSBC’s Asian operations. «It has got to the limit: you’ve had wage inflation, you’ve got rising natural resource prices. There’s just no more give.»
The crisis over pork prices in China, like the jolt many Americans feel when gasoline prices jump, offers one example of how prices can suddenly soar.
The Chinese government is struggling to cope – including deliberating whether to sell a snuffling, smelly strategic reserve of hundreds of thousands of live pigs kept at special subsidized farms for precisely the shortage the country is now facing.
Chinese officials offer several reasons for the high pig prices. The cost of animal feed has risen by one-quarter in the last year, partly because more corn is being made into ethanol and partly because more prosperous workers are eating more meat.
The cost of pig veterinary medicine has soared. Some pig farms, shut down because of low prices last year, were unprepared for strong demand this spring. And outbreaks of disease have killed many pigs, though no reliable estimates of how many are available.