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Manuel

Why is fruit so bland and yet so expensive in China?

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Manuel

Fruit prices seem to have skyrocketed recently in China, at least where I live—Wuxi. Not only that, the quality of the fruit has decreased significantly. A few years ago I used to be able to buy nice clementines, pears, watermelon, peaches, plums, etc, at reasonable prices. Now it's all unripe bland flavourless cr*p sold at exorbitant prices. For example, the cheapest apples in Carrefour, which BTW taste like inanimate objects, now cost 9 RMB/jin. If you want something that starts to resemble a real apple (although still nowhere near as good as a proper apple like, say, a Gala or a Granny Smith) you are going to be looking at about 2 Euros per apple, and still for pretty uninspiring taste. Everything else on the shelves, with the exception of mangoes and occasionally bananas, is meh.

 

Just curious, Is the fruit situation similar in other Chinese cities or is it just Wuxi?

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anonymoose

Have you tried lychees?

 

15 hours ago, Manuel said:

which BTW taste like inanimate objects

 

FYI, apples are inanimate objects

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abcdefg

Supermarket fruit is never the best. They select fruit that can be picked before it's ripe and is durable enough to tolerate being shipped long distances. They select varieties with long shelf life because that reduces overhead. Appearance trumps flavor. 

 

Apples are expensive now because they are out of season. Same with pears. 

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Shelley

I would be seeking out the markets and just buy fruit in season.

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DavyJonesLocker

Agree it is expensive here too in Beijing. Oddly enough I don't find market fruit any better quality that some of the supermarkets around .It is cheaper though. Does highly depend in the supermarket and I think generally speaking you get what pay for. I think Beijing is not ideal for street markets anyway as they are not located near subway stations and often quite remote.

 

Prices have gone up a lot over the 5 years I've been here, some by 100% or more. 

 

Pineapple here are around 25 to 40 kuai in the supermarket and on JingDong. It's about 15kuai equivalent in the UK and but it would be better quality here. Apple oranges, grapefruit are all cheaper in the UK considerably. In fact apart  from exotic fruit like lichee, mangoes , mangosteen I can't think of any that is actually cheaper than the UK. 

 

Certainly the days of things cheap in China especially in the big cities are over. The big expenses such as utility bills, rent, transport, are cheaper though. 

 

 

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Manuel

Same here, fruit in markets isn't any better or cheaper, save a few exceptions. For instance, Dole bananas are often cheaper in Carrefour, depending on how ripe (close to disposal) they are.

 

Regarding apples, I guess there must be an apple season, in theory that is, because it's the one fruit that's always in abundant supply... Rows of shelves of flavourless apples all year round in every fruit shop and market, trying to make it look like variety when in fact it's all just shades of quasi-apples. That's what I don't get, supply and demand for apples don't appear to have changed, then why have prices doubled or tripled? And more importantly, salaries have nowhere close to doubled. Vegetables, on the other hand, whilst having seen a price increase, they are still reasonably priced. I read somewhere that a spell of bad weather was to blame for the rising prices, but again I see crates upon crates of overpriced apples, so it seems weather is fine in apple land. And veggie land. Are prices being inflated artificially?

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Jim

It's all apple orchards round our way and you can still get some nice ones at the farm gate in season; cherries just come in too and had some of them at the weekend that are very tasty. Definitely nowhere near as cheap as things used to be though.

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DavyJonesLocker

just looking back through my jing dong history from when I first started. Trying to compare like with like and same time of year I'd say everything is 70% to 150% extra in price than 3or4 years ago .

Not just that, jif peanut butter is 42 now , was 19, 2 years ago but that could be due to the USA China trade disagreement. 

 

As you mention veggies are still relatively  cheap which is a big help. I juice a lot of veg, beetroot, carrots etc. Highly recommend it actually, the difference in my healthy and vitality is very noticeable actually

 

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Jim

Apricots out at the farm gates now noticed on way back from school run just.

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Manuel

Changes are happening. I'm pretty sure it's not a coincidence, and the powers that be probably are aware of rising living costs. The government might well be subsidising vegetable production just to ensure social stability, as these are an essential part of the Chinese diet, in fact, I'm told not long ago meat was considered a luxury only consumed on special occasions. Funnily though, by weight, pork and chicken are actually cheaper than fruit in China, which back home is usually the other way round.

 

The way I see it, China is dancing on very thin ice. If cost of living continues to rise while salaries stay unchanged, sooner or later the bubble has got to burst. 

 

 

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ZhangKaiRong

Sooner or later, the case will be similar to nowadays Japan, where fruit is a luxury as per the ridiculously high prices.

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889

Historically Chinese villagers have had a vegetables-and-grains diet. Meat for special occasions only, and even frying not all that common because of the cost of oil and fat.

 

In the cities, lean fresh pork was not easily available without a friendly butcher until the 90s. About the same time bananas started showing up.

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DavyJonesLocker

I do worry about the quality and additives of the food here. Just looking at my wheat wraps I had for lunch. 

120day shelf life. 4months! And that was from the 新鲜 part of the supermarket. 

Milk another major concern, does it ever go off ?? 

 

Back on topic, do you all  peel fruit here like apples? Pears, etc? 

I don't but thinking it's probably a good idea to do so.

 

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889

Imagine what the hormones creating those big chicken breasts do to you, guys. I seem to recall that before the Olympics, some countries tested the stuff and decided to bring their own.

 

Drinking tap water and eating an unpeeled apple have always been the quickest ways to spark a remonstrance from Chinese friends.

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Jim
42 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Back on topic, do you all  peel fruit here like apples? Pears, etc? 

Tend to peel apples and pears unless we've got organic (know some organic farmers and local villagers who don't use pesticides etc) but only wash soft fruit like grapes etc of course.

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ChTTay

As others have mentioned, stick to what’s in season.

 

When I first moved to China, in Yinchuan, it was so easy to know what was in season as once a fruit was ready there would be trucks filled with it lining the streets. Melon season was always a good one. Delicious apricots would appear for around 2 weeks then you couldn’t find them anyway. 

 

(Edit: this was 2011 so maybe it’s changed now too) 

 

In Beijing it’s similar to the U.K. now where everything is available all the time. 

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889

Yes, there was a time when every major street corner in Beijing had vendors night and day selling huge piles of watermelons in summer then 大白菜 come autumn.

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, 889 said:

Yes, there was a time when every major street corner in Beijing had vendors night and day selling huge piles of watermelons in summer then 大白菜 come autumn.

 

We still have those in Kunming. Not always large piles, but vendors with a bamboo shoulder pole and two baskets, or sometimes a pushcart are found at most residential intersections near where I live. They also make the rounds of older apartment complexes shouting out their wares and prices. 

 

1 hour ago, ChTTay said:

When I first moved to China, in Yinchuan, it was so easy to know what was in season as once a fruit was ready there would be trucks filled with it lining the streets

 

I understand what you mean. Love it. That still happens here.

 

I really haven't found it that difficult to find good tasting fruit here in Kunming. It obviously is more expensive than it was a decade ago. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to know what is locally in season and load up on that. I never set out to buy a specific fruit. I see what is abundant and cheap and go with that. It also usually winds up having the most flavor. 

 

 

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imron
2 hours ago, Jim said:

but only wash soft fruit like grapes etc of course.

But you spit the skin out for grapes anyway right? :mrgreen:

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Manuel
3 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Milk another major concern, does it ever go off ?? 

 

Back on topic, do you all  peel fruit here like apples? Pears, etc? 

I don't but thinking it's probably a good idea to do so.

Milk does go off unless it's long-life milk. I always buy fresh milk which is produced nearby and brought in early.

 

Regarding peeling, I peel my fruit and even bring a vegetable peeler with me when I travel. Like you, I don't peel grapes. 

 

I deliberately consume less meet and get protein from vegetable sources such as pulses and also MyProtein whey powder.

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