Wholesale pork prices rocketed up more than 70 per cent yesterday because of decreasing supplies of live pigs amid rising prices for beef. It was hard to estimate retail prices, said Ling Wai-yip, a spokesman for Fresh Meat United, because retailers were reluctant to shift the burden onto consumers for fear their businesses would be hit even harder. Recent pork prices stood at about HK$40 a catty (600 grams). Meanwhile, vegetable farms are being built in Guangdong to meet Hong Kong demand. Fresh Meat United, representing more than 500 live pig dealers and pork vendors in the city, said the most expensive live pig auctioned yesterday cost HK$2,400 per 100 catties and the average price was HK$2,200 per 100 catties, compared with HK$1,400 over the past few days. 'Pig supplies dropped drastically, so prices shot up,' said the chairman of the group, Man Cheuk-pui. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said 3,477 pigs were imported from the mainland yesterday, while Hong Kong farms supplied 559. On Monday, 3,815 pigs were imported and 321 were supplied by local farms. A total of 3,925 pigs came from the mainland on Sunday and 305 from local farms. Ng Fung Hong, the city's main pig importer, said fewer pigs were imported from the northern part of the mainland because of heavy snow. Supplies would soon stabilise, it said. Mr Ling said traders feared they would not have pigs. 'The Lunar New Year is approaching, and some people fear they will not have enough pigs for sale, so auction prices surged.' He stressed that traders did not deliberately push up prices. In the wake of increases for basic necessities, retail beef prices rose another 15 per cent to HK$55 a catty yesterday, the fifth increase in seven months, as Ng Fung Hong tried to maintain stable beef supplies. However, prices and supplies of vegetables from the mainland are expected to remain stable before and after the Lunar New Year. Liu Shu-yi, deputy director of the Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, said Shenzhen had invested 800 million yuan since last July to set aside 130,000 hectares of agricultural land in Guangdong as 'vegetable supply bases' for Hong Kong exports. On this land, 132 registered vegetables farms will be built. Some have been built in Shaoguan , Heyuan and Huizhou . Stringent inspection measures will be implemented to ensure the vegetables meet safety standards.