Economy

In China, vegetables are becoming more expensive than pork

Vegetable rates have soared in China after recent rains lashed crops this month. The price rise has led to concern at a time when consumers are bracing for energy cost hike as winter approaches.

In northern parts of China unusually heavy rains flooded Shandong province in September-October. Shandong province is the top vegetable growing province in China.

“All the vegetables are dead in the ground,” said Zhou Rui, a farmer who cultivates about 7 hectares (17 acres) in the Juancheng county of the province. He was quoted by Reuters.

She added that there was little left to pick after spinach, cabbage and coriander were flooded.

The price of spinach has jumped to 16.67 yuan ($2.61) per kg this week from 6.67 yuan in late September, a price index published in the provincial vegetable trading hub of Shouguang showed.

The prices of broccoli, cucumbers, and cabbage have also more than doubled in recent weeks.

The rocketing prices are a hot topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, with many users saying vegetables now cost more than pork, the nation’s staple meat.

“Coriander is now 17.8 yuan per half kilo, it really is more expensive than pork!” wrote one user in the eastern province of Anhui.

The rise, at a time of growing scrutiny for inflation, is worrying government officials in Beijing who are keen to ensure sufficient food supplies ahead of winter.

The average wholesale price of vegetables in the capital has jumped by 39.8% since last month, while some leafy vegetables rose more than 50%, the city government said on Tuesday.

Authorities in Beijing have warned that prices could rise further in the next few weeks, as the city looks further south to source its vegetables when temperatures fall and high energy prices boost transport costs.

High vegetable prices are unlikely to push up overall consumer price inflation, but they come as soaring fuel costs look set to be gradually passed on to consumers.

“It’s a very sharp increase, so it’s very noticeable,” said Darin Friedrichs, senior Asia commodity analyst at StoneX. “We may see consumers budgeting purchasing of other things in response.”

Higher energy prices are also pushing up operating costs for greenhouses, in addition to record prices this year for fertiliser.

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