Vegetable prices skyrocket in China, in some cases costing more than meat

The price of wholesale vegetables in China has shot up by 28% in the last four weeks due to a combination of factors that include the heavy rains that damaged crops in China's main producing regions a few weeks ago, and the increase in coal prices, which has made greenhouse farming more expensive. In fact, vegetable prices are now at the highest level they have been since February and, according to the latest data from the Commerce Ministry, some vegetables are even more expensive than meat.

In the last four weeks, the price of spinach increased by 157% while cauliflower and broccoli increased by about 50%. On Wednesday, a half-kilo bag of lettuce or spinach at Beijing's Xinfadi Market was being sold for up to 8 yuan ($1.25). According to Bloomberg, the same amount of pork was sold for 8 to 10.5 yuan and half a kilo of chicken was sold for 7 to 10 yuan.

They are still surpassed by herbs like coriander. "Half a kilo of coriander now costs 17.8 yuan," a consumer in the eastern province of Anhui stated on social media.

The price hike is so strong that many consumers are complaining on social media, stating that they can no longer afford to eat vegetables, and China's Ministry of Agriculture vowed to crack down on the hoarding of vegetables and to ensure a stable supply in the country.

Economists expect the boost to inflation will be temporary. However, prices will likely remain high for a few months, until demand begins to ease during the Lunar New Year in February. Still, higher prices for vegetables could become a broader inflation problem, as the fodder and food for farm animals is often based on these vegetables.

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