Yesterday's post on high mutton prices neglected to mention the influence of a crackdown on clenbuterol use. In August and September 2011 news media revealed the "open secret" of widespread use of clenbuterol by sheep herders in Shandong and other parts of northern China (about 5 months after the pork clenbuterol incident hit the news). The Ministry of Agriculture sent out inspection teams and is threatening dealers and users of clenbuterol with big fines or jail time.
An article in the Dalian Evening News in February noted that mutton prices were high and the volume of sales in Dalian was at its lowest point in ten years. Some industry people interviewed by the paper attributed a short supply of mutton to the crackdown on clenbuterol. Clenbuterol reportedly can add 1.5-to-2 kilograms of lean meat per sheep. The ban means that sheep have less muscle and more fat, reducing the supply of meat.