Vietnam food prices climb amid inflation battle

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Meat and vegetable prices have spiraled out of control in recent months, putting Vietnamese officials in a bind as they try to beat back inflation.

Nguyen Xuan Duong, deputy head of the Department of Husbandry, said food prices have increased by 40-60 percent since April. The price of pork in particular surged 70 percent, he said at an urgent meeting held last Tuesday to discuss food prices.

The husbandry sector has been facing difficulties including diseases and higher input costs, putting pressure on meat supply, Duong said. Many farmers have narrowed production although pork prices are at their highest ever, he added.

According to the Department of Husbandry, Vietnam did not import pigs for slaughter and consumption in the first six months.

The prices of vegetables in Hanoi have risen 100-200 percent due to a storm late last month and declining imports from China, said Pham Dong Quang, deputy head of the Department of Cultivation. But officials were confident prices will stabilize soon after local supply improves.

Cao Duc Phat, minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, asked industry officials to strengthen inspections and take measures to ensure sufficient food supply. He said it was also necessary to promote increased consumption of poultry to ease demand for pork.

Tuesday's meeting was convened after Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered government agencies and enterprises to control prices last Saturday. Soaring food prices are making it difficult to achieve the revised inflation target of 15-17 percent for the year, the government said.

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