Chinese Consumers Shocked by 78 Percent Price Increase on Fruit

By Olivia Li, Epoch Times
May 17, 2019 Updated: May 21, 2019

Recently, an expert from the nonprofit organization Chinese Nutrition Society posted an article that suggested that every adult should eat one pound of vegetables and a half-pound of fruit every day.

In the comment section of the article, many Chinese netizens posted the same feedback: “We cannot afford it.”

Zhang Junhua, manager of the market statistics department at Xinfadi Produce Wholesale Center in Beijing, told Chinese state media The Beijing News that the average price of fruit at Xinfadi Wholesale Center is currently 6.15 yuan ($0.89) per kilogram, an increase of approximately 78 percent from the same period in 2018. The increase in the past seven days alone is about 10 percent. The rise in prices affects apples, citrus, kiwi, and pears.

A salesperson at the wholesale center told The Beijing News that compared with 2018, 80 percent of the fruit has had a price increase.

Ms. Zheng, a fruit retailer in Beijing, said that the price for a gold nugget—a tangerine—in her store was around 5 yuan ($0.73) per pound in 2018, and the current price is around 10 yuan ($1.46) per pound.

Several fruit retail owners told The Beijing News that “pears won’t sell” because they are too expensive this year.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture set up a National Agricultural Products Wholesale Market Price Information System in 1995 to monitor the wholesale prices of agricultural products. Recent data from this system showed that fruit prices have inflated throughout China, and the inflation suddenly accelerated in mid-March.

According to information shared from netizens, lychee is now 60 yuan ($8.72) per pound in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province. In many places, consumers pay 10 yuan ($1.45) for one kiwi fruit. Two bunches of grapes would cost more than 80 yuan ($11.60).

In China, the salary for an average government employee ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 yuan ($436–$726) per month. The variation mostly comes from regional differences.

China’s overall Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation hit a six-month high in April with an increase of 2.5 percent from a year ago. Prices for vegetables, pork, and fruit rose by 17.4 percent, 14.4 percent, and 11.9 percent year-on-year, respectively, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The surge in fruit prices was due to extreme weather, a spokesperson from the NBS told Beijing-based business magazine Caixin. The spokesperson didn’t provide further information.

According to public data from the Ministry of Agriculture, China imported $8.42 billion of fruit in 2018, an increase of 34.5 percent over the previous year.

Consumers’ Complaints

Mr. Lin, a resident of Hunan Province, told Beijing News, “Cherry was expensive to begin with, now it’s getting more expensive. The cherries I bought last time were 178 yuan ($25.90) per pound! I almost wanted to cancel the purchase when I found out the price at check-out.”

Many others posted their complaints in the comment section of the article published by the Chinese Nutrition Society.

A netizen said she used to eat a big apple every day. Now, she says she can no longer afford to buy apples.

Another one wrote, “I am not going to buy this expensive fruit anymore. I believe many others whose income level is similar to mine won’t buy either. Farmers can consider reducing the production now.”

A young lady who recently bought a juicer said, “I just realized that although I can afford to buy a juicer, I cannot afford to buy fruit anymore.”

A person who goes to the grocery store every day said, “I noticed that the prices for fruit go up every two days this week.”

Someone suggested, “Let’s eat cucumbers and tomatoes as fruit substitutes.”

When a netizen said he hoped that fruit farmers could benefit from the price increases, others reminded him that it’s almost impossible.

“First, the farmers suffer heavy taxation; second, it is the fruit brokers that can really make profits. The farmers are always exploited,” one person wrote.