China urges less imported food purchases; High vegetable prices to linger

China urges less imported food purchases to curb Covid spread

The deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned consumers against buying cold-chain food and said to “try to avoid online shopping and purchasing cold chain food from overseas and domestic areas with reported cases”.

They also added that if consumers do need to buy, they should go to a properly licensed supermarket and ensure that those products have cold-chain traceability codes issued by Beijing.

This is likely bearish for the demand of imported cold-chain products as consumers are likely to be more wary following recent covid outbreaks that health officials have linked to imported mail and cold chain products.

This also remains a source of trade friction between China and exporting countries.

Countries that do not consider cold chain transmission of coronavirus as a significant risk might view this as a non-tariff barrier to trade.

However, the status quo is likely to continue as China remains committed to its zero-Covid policy.

High vegetable prices in China to linger amid inflation pressure

Vegetable prices in China are expected to remain at current high level due to strong diesel, gasoline, and energy prices globally, according to Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The prices of 28 major types of vegetables in the country rose 36.5% from July through November, reaching 5.72 yuan/kg (US$904/ton).

Prices eased slightly in December to 5.22 yuan/kg (US$825/ton), but were still up more than 6% year on year.

Vegetable prices are firm despite that planted areas for vegetables rose 2.6% in the past quarter to 6.7 million hectares and production is estimated to rise 2% during the same period.

Meanwhile, the country’s hog population has returned to the pre-ASF level six months ahead of original forecast, and pork output rose sharply.

Flight traffic volumes in China shrink to 18-month low in November

In November last year, there were only 21.4 million domestic airline passenger trips, according to government data. This is the lowest monthly volume since April 2020.

Passenger traffic fell sharply from October, down 45% on the month and 52% year on year.

Domestic traffic in China was battered in November as local Covid transmissions reached a three-month high and clusters of cases found across many provinces that are distant to each other.

Many people opted to stay local and avoid flying. Part of this was due to worries about the virus, but some of it was also caused by the inconvenience of travelling that could involve testing and quarantine.

Different cities and provinces have their own requirements which sometimes includes having a negative test or using their local health code app.

As consumers stay local, this would continue to weigh on tourism and restaurant spending in China this year.

China domestic grain sales slow ahead of holiday season

Sales of domestic soybeans and corn in China’s main producing regions slowed during the 10-day period ending January 15 as national holiday approaches, latest government data showed.

Total soybean sales from farmers to companies plunged 61% to 120,000 tons, sending the cumulative sales this marketing year to 1.87 million tons.

Corn sales also dipped 5% to 10.19 million tons during the same period. Gross corn sales this year have climbed to nearly 65.7 million tons.

Moreover, the overall sales volume for soybeans, corn and rice fell 19% from the previous period to 13.7 million tons. Total sales during the year have exceeded 127 million tons.

China is estimated to have produced more than 16 million tons of soybeans and 272 million tons of corn in 2021/22 marketing year.