Vegetable Prices Soar in China

May 29, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Vegetable prices at a supermarket in Hebei Province on May 11. (AFP)
Vegetable prices at a supermarket in Hebei Province on May 11. (AFP)
Many city dwellers in China are feeling the financial burden of surging vegetable prices.

According to an International Finance News report, vegetable prices have increased substantially in most cities in China this year. Vegetables that are less than 1 yuan (US$0.15) per pound have nearly vanished in today’s fresh vegetable markets.

Xiong Zhixiang from Anhui Province, a maid hired to cook in a family in Shanghai City, told International Finance News, “Now vegetables are much more expensive than previous years. Some seasonal vegetables are more than four yuan (US$0.59) per pound. We often buy broad beans, which are at 0.80 yuan per pound, [which is] almost the lowest price in the fresh market.”

Beijing resident Wang Boqing, who earns less than 1,500 yuan (US$220) a month, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the high prices forced him to give up eating vegetables at every meal.

“It is impossible to find vegetables that are less than three yuan (US$0.44) for 2 pounds. I cannot buy vegetables freely as I did in past years.”

Wang said that the authorities should rein in commodity prices and ensure all citizens have access to reasonably priced food and vegetables.

A vegetable wholesaler told China Central Television in Beijing, “Vegetable prices were much higher this April than last year. For example, tomato prices used to be just over 1 yuan per pound. But now they’re more than 3 yuan.”

As reported by the Global Times, ginger in Dongguan City of South China’s Guangdong Province sold for 12 yuan (US$1.76) for 2 pounds on May 17, but was just 4 yuan in May 2009. Vegetables, which are staples in most Chinese people’s daily diet, are no longer affordable for many low-income people.

The Global Times said a female hospital custodian with a monthly salary of 750 yuan (US$110) can afford a mere 300 yuan (US$44) a month for food. Not only can she not feed herself, but also she cannot ensure her son’s education and basic nutrition.

Tens of millions of people living in poverty, especially city dwellers, who cannot grow their own food, are confronted with the same situation, the report said.

According to a China News Service (CNS) report, statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics show vegetable prices nationwide increased 18.5 percent in March and 24.9 percent in April compared to the same periods last year, while vegetable prices in Beijing rose 32.7 percent and 32.6 percent, respectively.

The National Development and Reform Commission assured the public that more vegetables would be available in the market with warmer weather and that lower prices are expected soon, the Global Times quoted a CNS Monday report as saying. said that with the warming climate, vegetable prices are almost certain to continue their upward trend. This year, the production, transportation, storage, and labor costs have increased, which will directly lead to vegetable production and marketing costs increasing.

Read the original Chinese article.