China food prices jump despite effort to ease pork shortage

BEIJING (AP) — China's food prices jumped 17.4% in December over a year earlier, driven by surging pork prices despite official efforts to ease shortages caused by a disease outbreak.

The surge in prices adds to challenges for communist leaders who are trying to shore up slowing economic growth and resolve a tariff war with Washington.

The price of pork nearly doubled despite increased imports of China's staple meat and the release of thousands of tons from government stockpiles, official data showed Thursday.

Overall consumer prices rose 4.5%, well above the ruling Communist Party's official target of 3%. That matched November's inflation rate, the highest in seven years.

China's pork industry has been devastated by an outbreak of African swine fever that prompted authorities to destroy animals and block shipments.

The outbreak has pushed up global pork prices as Chinese importers try to fill the gap by purchasing supplies from Canada, Europe and other suppliers.

Beijing announced in September it would lift punitive tariffs imposed on American pork and soybeans during its trade war with Washington. That would ease pressure on Chinese pig farmers that use soy as animal feed.