Has coronavirus caused a surge in the price of food in China?
The National Bureau of Statistics of China has released figures which reveal a surge in the price of food, with indications that coronavirus and African swine fever are amongst the causes.
The National Bureau of Statistics of China has announced that, in January 2020, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in China went up by 5.4 percent year-on-year, with an increase of 5.1 percent in urban and 6.3 percent in rural. Food prices went up by 20.6 percent, and non-food prices increased by 1.6 percent.
In January, national consumer prices rose by 1.4 percent month-on-month. Among them, the prices in urban and rural were both up by 1.4 percent; the prices of foodstuff increased by 4.4 percent, that of non-foodstuff increased by 0.6 percent, and that of consumer goods and services went up by 1.6 and one percent respectively. According to CNN, the statistics bureau has acknowledged the role of the recent coronavirus outbreak in causing these prices to surge.
Year-on-year changes of prices of different categories
In January, prices of food, tobacco and liquor went up by 15.2 percent year-on-year, affecting nearly 4.52 percentage points increase in the CPI. Livestock meat price increased by 76.7 percent, affecting around 3.38 percentage points increase in the CPI. The price of pork was up by 116 percent, affecting approximately 2.76 percentage points increase in the CPI – the large increase is said to be due to the country’s ongoing struggle with African swine fever.
Fresh vegetable prices jumped by 17.1 percent, affecting the CPI up by 0.45 percentage point. The price of aquatic products jumped by 3.8 percent, affecting 0.07 percentage point increase in the CPI, and the price of eggs also rose – by 2.4 percent – affecting the CPI up by approximately 0.02 percentage point. Grain prices also saw an increase by 0.5 percent, affecting CPI up by about 0.01 percentage point, and fresh fruit prices decreased by five percent, affecting nearly 0.09 percentage point decrease in the CPI.
Month-on-month changes of prices of different categories
In January, food, tobacco and alcohol prices went up by 3.1 percent month-on-month, affecting CPI increase by 1.01 percentage points. Fresh vegetable prices went up by 15.3 percent, affecting CPI up by 0.39 percentage point.
Livestock meat prices rose by 6.1 percent, affecting nearly 0.43 percentage point increase in the CPI and the price of pork was up by 8.5 percent, affecting approximately 0.39 percentage point increase in the CPI. Fresh fruits prices also went up by 5.5 percent, affecting CPI increase by 0.09 percentage point. Aquatic products prices rose by 4.5 percent, affecting CPI up by 0.08 percentage point, and egg prices dropped by 3.2 percent, affecting CPI down by 0.02 percentage point.
Food crime linked to coronavirus
CNN reported that regulators in Shanghai recently fined a supermarket store two million yuan (£221,687) after they found it to increase the price of vegetables by 692 percent. Regulators in Zhengzhou have also reportedly fined a supermarket operator 500,000 yuan (£55,417) for charging up to £1.55 a kilogram for cabbage.
According to CNN, the Chinese Supreme Court said that these crimes could be punishable with prison time. CNN also reported that the government has announced that it would increase imports of meat and daily necessities to combat the surge in prices. A government official reportedly said that China has released over 100,000 metric tonnes of pork and 47,000 metric tonnes of vegetables from its reserves since the recent coronavirus outbreak began.