China's food prices stable as supply recovered in March
Zheng Junfeng

China's food prices in March dropped from high levels in February, as the grocery supply chain gradually recovered amid a receding virus outbreak. 

According to China's Statistics Bureau, the country's overall food prices has declined by 3.8 percent from February. Fresh vegetable prices dropped by 12.2 percent and pork was 6.9 percent cheaper from a month ago.

On a normal Thursday afternoon, Beijing supermarkets are usually busy, with ample groceries and plenty of customers. 

Beijing resident Miss Cao has a whole trolley of groceries. "I see no changes in food prices," she said. "The supply is sufficient. I can find everything I need."

Another lady with two daughters happily sitting in her trolley said, "There's no change in food prices. The prices are the same as before. The supply is ample as usual, which makes us feel safe."

Adequate supply is crucial for stable prices. Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak in late January, major supermarkets in Beijing have remained open every day. Local authorities offered supporting policies to let supermarket employees go back to work early and ensured smooth grocery transportation, as they are basic necessities.

Kevin Song, general manager of Sam's Club Yizhuang Beijing, said his shop reacted quickly to secure supplies. "Our food prices have been stable ever since the virus outbreak," he said. "We upgraded our vegetable factory in three days and lifted our supply capacity five-fold. Our partners in Beijing suburb farms have also boosted their output. "

Recently some Southeast Asian countries announced that they've stopped exporting rice and that triggered a short period of hoarding of rice and wheat flour. But now it seems no one is hoarding, because shoppers find no matter how much they buy, there's always more on the shelves.

Cao said, "I see no need to hoard rice or wheat flour. There's clearly so much supply here. I just buy what I need." 

Another shopper said, "I don't feel we are short of rice. We notice that rice is always available on those online grocery platforms."

China's agriculture ministry officials have said lately that the country's stockpiles of rice and wheat flour can last for over a year. The country imports only 2 percent of these cereals for just different flavors. So, the country has done a tremendous job in securing food safety and stabilizing food prices.