No widespread panic buying is spotted in major Chinese cities, as officials pledge sufficient supply
Officials pledge stable food supply after online speculation
Published: Nov 03, 2021 05:07 PM
A stall full of fruit in a supermarket in Shanghai on November 3. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

A stall full of fruit in a supermarket in Shanghai on November 3. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

Food supply remains stable in China with no panic buying seen in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai on Wednesday, though long lines for purchasing daily necessities have reportedly been spotted in some smaller cities, after an official call for stocking up on daily necessities sparked speculations.

This mirrors the overall calm, as repeated official reassurances effectively defuse anxieties about hoarding daily necessities in the wake of a Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) notice that reminded families of ensuring supplies of food, among other necessities, which ignited heated public debate about essential goods supplies, renewed coronavirus flare-ups as well as the Taiwan question. 

Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday pledged to ensure supplies and stabilize the prices of meat, eggs, vegetables and other life essentials while presiding over a State Council executive meeting.

Effective measures would be taken to ensure a warm winter and maintain stable economic operations and a steady jobs market, the premier said.

As the country's autumn grain harvest nears an end, a bumper harvest for the whole year is expected, the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration said on Wednesday, estimating that the country's grain output will hold above 65 million kilograms for the seventh year in a row. Supplies in the domestic grain market are completely guaranteed, according to the administration.

At Huarun Wanjia Supermarket in Shanghai, a Global Times reporter saw an abundance of goods in stock. The shelves of edible oil, rice, vegetables and instant noodles were almost full, and customers were seen loading up on items in an orderly way.

"Customers shopping for edible oil have slightly increased since yesterday but there is no panic buying. Most of them buy small amounts," a staff member at the edible oil stall told the Global Times.

At another supermarket in Beijing's Chaoyang District, the customer flow was in line with a regular weekday. Everything on the shelves was as it usually would be. 

"The current consumer volume is normal," a staffer at the supermarket told the Global Times. "There have been no consumers rushing to purchase life necessities recently and the stocks at the supermarket are sufficient," the staffer said.

Food and cooking oil supplies in the market are sufficient and reserves adequate, with prices of major food and cooking oil items holding stable, the Beijing News reported Wednesday, citing the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau.

In addition, supplies of meat, eggs and vegetables are stable, with major wholesale markets, chain supermarkets, e-commerce vendors and direct-sale businesses maintaining adequate stockpiles, the bureau said, adding that it has asked businesses to increase supplies, broaden supply channels and beef up shipments.

The city's wholesalers, supermarkets and online vendors have already taken action, according to the report, citing signs of a moderation in certain vegetables recently.

Still, some large supermarkets in Changzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, had long lines to buy daily necessities, according to media reports.

A photo circulated online showed that a supermarket in Tianning District, Changzhou was crowded with people shopping for daily necessities and one consumer's cart was filled with noodles, vegetables and oil.

"In some supermarkets in Changzhou, people have to wait in line for two hours to check out," Wuhan-based Jimu News reported.

According to the Changzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce, the heavy buying was mainly due to an overreaction to the notice on ensuring stable supplies during the winter season issued by the MOFCOM, as well as three newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city on Wednesday.

Moreover, scenes of frenzied buying that caused long lines in Southwest China's Chongqing, Zhengzhou in Central China's Henan Province, Qidong in Jiangsu and Bengbu in East China's Anhui Province also made social media headlines.

Local supermarkets, residents and commerce bureaus confirmed such frenzied purchases to varied degrees, but there were no cases of shortages of daily necessities or supply outages, Jimu News reported Wednesday.

Commerce bureaus in many regions have warned the public against excessive anxiety and blind hoarding that causes unnecessary waste. 

After its notice sparked speculations, officials from the MOFCOM offered clarification late on Tuesday, saying that the notice was part of regular government efforts to ensure supplies, stabilize prices and help residents prepare for potential emergencies. 

A Shanghai-based customer who loaded two bottles of edible oil into her trolley told the Global Times that she was not hoarding.

"I just happened to run out of edible oil. There is no need to stock up. The food supply is sufficient, and the prices of vegetables are coming down," she said. 

"Judging from the current situation, the supply of daily necessities in various places is sufficient and should be fully guaranteed," Zhu Xiaoliang, the head of the MOFCOM's Department of Market Operation and Consumption Promotion, said in an online post on Tuesday.