The price of pork has witnessed a dramatic decline over the past week, as fears that swine flu will dampen demand forced prices down.

Lean hog futures for May have dropped from US$69 per 100 lbs of pork carcass on Friday (24 April) to $58.5 per 100 lbs at 4.17pm (BST) today.

Purdue University agronomist Professor Christopher Hurt told just-food that prices were being driven down over concerns that exports and consumption will fall in the wake of the swine flu outbreak. 

Last year, exports accounted for 20% of US pork production. Nine countries have already moved to block US pork exports, including two of its largest markets – China and Russia.

An additional fear is that consumption will fall, despite the industry’s best efforts to reassure consumers that pork is safe to eat.

No link has been established between pork consumption and contracting the disease, which is thought to be spread from human to human contact.

“This is a virus the world scientific community has not seen before. The disease is novel in that it is not traditional swine flu, human flu, or bird flu, but has elements of all of these…. The connection to hogs [through the ‘common name’] is unfortunate for the industry,” Hurt said.