Vegetable prices likely to drop, but epidemic measures a challenge to logistics: vendors
Published: Jan 24, 2021 09:28 PM

A worker carries vegetables at the Qingda Agricultural Products Wholesale Market in Suihua City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo by Zhang Tao/Xinhua)

As stricter COVID-19 containment measures and inspections have lifted logistics costs, driving up prices of fresh produce in some major Chinese cities, the country's top economic planner and vegetable vendors in North China said that they expect prices to drop gradually. 

Responding to skyrocketing prices of chili pepper, Chinese cabbage and green onion in recent days, an official at China's top economic planner - National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) - said the increases are seasonal ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays, which start from February 11 this year. 

The official said that with measures to secure supplies, prices will ease and return to the same level as in previous years, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Cold weather has affected the production and circulation of vegetables. In response to sporadic COVID-19 cases in parts of China, the transportation and distribution of vegetables have been affected, the report said. 

A Liaoning Province-based vegetable vender on Sunday told the Global Times that the price of Chinese cabbage surged 30 percent in past week compared with the week before. He pointed to recent COVID-19 flare-ups in North China's Hebei Province and sporadic COVID-19 cases in Beijing's Daxing and Shunyi districts, which have led some cities to strengthen inspections of workers involved in trans-provincial movements. 

"It's hard to find a truck to take vegetables to cities that are experiencing new cases, due to inspections and virus containment measures. Shipping prices have almost doubled as a result," the vendor said, but predicted the price for Chinese cabbage would decline after the Chinese New Year. 

Jiao Xiyuan, a green onion vendor in Daxing-based Xinfadi wholesale market, has already left Beijing and gone back to his hometown, as fewer people came to his stall at the market. 

"It seems the price of green onions keeps rising. Whether it will continue to rise after the Chinese New Year depends on the containment situation in North China," Jiao told the Global Times. 

In a bid to meet demand and stabilize prices, the NDRC official said vegetable production must be enhanced while the logistics and distribution of vegetables should also be guaranteed. 

Big cities in North, Northeast and Northwest China have built up vegetable inventories that will last for a long time, the official added. 

More than 56,667 square kilometers of land is being used to grow vegetables in China at present, up 666.67 square kilometers year-on-year, according to media reports.

The average weekly yield of vegetables across China has seen a slight increase compared with a year earlier, which has made supply for the market secure, the NDRC official noted.