China's pork supply may not fully return to normal levels until mid-2008. Production costs and retail costs are likely to stay relatively high until then, an industry official said Friday. "It simply takes time to increase the number of piglets and to rear pigs,” according to Qiao Yufeng, vice chairman of China Animal Agriculture Association.

"And this (shortage) happens at a time when prices of agricultural products, which are used to produce the feed, are rising quickly," Qiao said. The increased cost of feed along with unfavorable weather conditions have made industry participants believe that prices are unlikely to fall any time soon.

Chinese hogs have been hit by infectious diseases since mid-2005, and researchers still hold divergent opinions on the causes behind the outbreaks, industry officials said. "What I can say is that stocks are recovering steadily, but how fast, I'm not sure. The (blue ear) disease is under control, but it's hard to eliminate it completely," Qiao said.  

Source: Dow Jones Newswires