Inflation in China slowed to 2.1 percent in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said, down from 3.2 percent in February when prices spiked during the Lunar New Year holiday.
The March rise in the consumer price index (CPI) -- a main gauge of inflation -- was lower than the median forecast of 2.4 percent in a poll of 16 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.
Month on month CPI fell by 0.9 percent, the bureau said. In the first three months of the year inflation stood at 2.4 percent year-on-year, it added.
Food prices remained a leading driver of inflation in March, rising 2.7 percent year on year.
But prices for pork declined by 5.5 percent last month from a year ago, apparently as consumers turned away from the meat as more than 16,000 dead pigs were found in a river that flows through Shanghai.
The scandal highlighted China's troubles with food safety, adding the country's most popular meat to a growing list of food items rocked by controversy.
China has set its inflation target for this year at 3.5 percent, lower than last year's goal of 4.0 percent but higher than the actual inflation rate for 2012, which stood at 2.6 percent.