If you are suffering a bit of sticker shock when buying produce or shopping for pork, it is not your imagination. Food prices across China are skyrocketing and Kunming, while a bit insulated from a drastically fluctuating market because of its proximity to farmland, is no exception. Prices for fresh vegetables and pork in the Spring City rose a somewhat staggering 21 percent last month.
Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (国家统计局) reveals that Kunming and Yunnan are following a national trend, and March was the second consecutive month where consumer produce costs rose by more than 15 percent. It could be worse however, as the cost of buying vegetables grew an average of 35 percent nationally compared with the same time last year.
Kunming's overall Consumer Price Index — an estimate calculated using the prices of commonly purchased household items and services — remained steady in March, with spiraling food costs offset by declines in other sectors. Government analysts believe costs will drop slowly beginning this summer, as the agricultural sector ramps up production.
The rise in vegetable prices has been blamed largely on an unusually cold winter across China's southern provinces. As for pork, which is more expensive now than it has been at any time in the past five years, a Ministry of Agriculture (农业部) official told China Daily:
The pork price rise is due to a shortage in the supply of domestically produced pork caused, in part, by water pollution control initiatives in [ten] provinces. The initiatives that started in November 2015 resulted in the closure of pig farms and the loss of capacity to raise 20 million hogs.
Although fresh food prices are expected to drop as summer approaches, a few varieties may not recover for some time. Garlic, for example, has tripled and even quadrupled in price at local markets after early season crops in Dali were especially hard-hit during a January cold snap. For the time being, shoppers around China will have to deal with inflated food prices, with Kunming and Yunnan residents taking small solace in the fact that they are paying slightly less than people in other parts of the country.
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