The price of pork, a staple of the Chinese diet, hit a new high in China this month due to rising costs and short supply, state media saidJune 21 , amid persistent concerns about soaring inflation.

Pork cost CNY27.67 ($4.30) a kilogram last week, above the previous peak of CNY26 set in 2008, the China Daily reported, citing Feng Yonghui, an analyst with Soozhu.com, an online pig market monitoring service.

The cost of live pigs also surged to CNY18.57 a kilo at the end of last week, beating the previous record high of CNY17.20 reached in April 2008, he said.

"The price will keep rising till the end of the year," Zhu Baoliang, an economist with the State Information Centre, a government think-tank, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

The price of corn, which accounts for around 60% of pig feed, hit a record high in March, sending pig and pork prices skyrocketing in the following months, according to Feng.

He warned that price increases in pork, which accounted for 65% of China's meat consumption, risked sending the costs of grains and vegetables up as consumers seek alternatives to meat, the report said.

The government could try to curb pork price rises by freeing up supply reserves, Zhu said.

However, the effects could be limited given a general supply shortage after pig farmers slaughtered breeding stock last year due to low prices and diseases, he said.

Beijing has listed containing price rises, which have triggered bouts of unrest around the country, as the government's top priority this year.

The consumer price index rose 5.5% on the year in May--the highest since July 2008 and far above the official annual inflation target of 4.0%--as food costs soared on power shortages and droughts in some areas.

Source: AFP