Pork prices in Beijing ratchet up ahead of Lunar New Year due to nearby lockdowns

People in Beijing are grumbling over high prices for pork and other grocery items ahead of the Lunar New Year as lockdowns in a neighbouring province to contain COVID-19 disrupt food deliveries.

22 January 2021, at 9:17am

Reuters reports that the pressure on food prices is especially sensitive in the run-up to the country's most important holiday - which starts on 11 February - as families gather around the dinner table.

Already high because of exceptionally low temperatures since December, vegetable prices in Beijing, a mega-city of 21 million people, have jumped after many cities in Hebei province locked down following a jump in coronavirus infections.

"They're much more expensive. But we still have to eat, who's going to do without vegetables?," said a woman surnamed Zhang, shopping in a supermarket in central Beijing.

A large cabbage, ubiquitous in Beijing kitchens during winter months, now costs 2 yuan per half kilogram, twice as much as a year go.

Eggs and cooking oils are also more expensive than last year, while pork prices have risen in recent weeks to about 46 yuan per kg, the same level as a year ago, despite an increase in production.

And more people will be staying in the cities this new year, as authorities have urged people not to travel to their hometowns for the holiday to reduce the risk of further COVID-19 outbreaks, as the number of daily infections are at their worst since March 2020.

"The consumption of agricultural products in large and medium-sized cities is expected to increase significantly compared with previous years," said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in a statement, adding that supplies are plentiful and hoarding unnecessary.

Officials from Beijing's municipal government said the city would guarantee stable prices for essential greens like cabbage, radishes and potatoes, and called for faster movement of produce being delivered to markets in the capital.

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