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Manuel

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

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xinoxanu

Same situation in Chengdu.

 

Today I was thinking about the same very issue, and that's becasue I'm on my 3rd order of Mangoes in the last 5 days. Bananas and Mangoes are the only fruits I eat here, and usually from the imported section of Carrefour. I've tried locally produced bananas but are tasteless, nothing beats a Dole-like banana or aPlátano from the Canary Islands anyway; as per Mangoes, however, I can assess the little ones produced in SW China get as tasty as Thailand imported ones, and here it's usually 7kuai for 500g which is not bad. 

 

I got a free bag of prunes the other day but boy, how bad they were and last time I ate pears I threw away the whole box after a single bite. Those big lemon-like fruits we get in Autumn are spot on though, so I basically get my yearly citric dose from those.

 

Meat... it's disgusting though. From the about to expire "fresh" Chicken that Walmart sells (which more than once has expired after only 12h in my fridge, running next day's lunch) to the frozen-unfrozen-and frozen again that you leaves your mouth with a disgusting after-taste. Pork seems to be okayish fro the most part, and actually you can get nice cuts (no idea about the hormone crap inside) for about 7kuai/400g in Carrefour. But overall, meat is definitely something you want to avoid over here and actually I've spent months eating canned tuna instead, with all the extra benefits for my health so it's not that bad....

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xinoxanu

As a side note, I can only congratulate Carrefour and Auchan, both french companies, for more or less keeping their quality standards compared to what we get back in Europe! It must not be as cheap for them, though, and certainly products are comparatively more expensive... but the living proof that Walmart is, having shifted into a crappy supermarket once in China, makes you want to pay those extra kuai! Back in the States they are perhaps not top of the line still, but follow FDA guidelines and common decency nonethless. 

 

Yes, I'm pretty pissed at the "fresh" food that walmart sells over here.

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DavyJonesLocker
47 minutes ago, Manuel said:

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

 

Thats my big issue, I am quite into muscle building so need protein. when I ordered it before from My Protein.cn  I needed to add a  身份证 ID which naturally i didn't have. My gf at the time used her's but it was stopped at customs so I had to pay a fair chunk extra, despite what myprotein were  promising of no “customs fee”

 

I am a big meat eater usually, but in china I eat about half of what i would in the UK ,

 

36 minutes ago, xinoxanu said:

Meat... it's disgusting though. From the about to expire "fresh" Chicken that Walmart sells (which more than once has expired after only 12h in my fridge, running next day's lunch) to the frozen-unfrozen-and frozen again that you leaves your mouth with a disgusting after-taste. Pork seems to be okayish fro the most part, and actually you can get nice cuts (no idea about the hormone crap inside) for about 7kuai/400g in Carrefour. But overall, meat is definitely something you want to avoid over here and actually I've spent months eating canned tuna instead, with all the extra benefits for my health so it's not that bad....

 

 

You know the difference when you just cook meat plain or with just a few herbs. A roast chicken is appaling as is most beef, you couldn't have a roast beef unless you you get aussie beef . I have a load of these bags of dry spices, that i bought from UK and Germany with me. You chop up the meat, whack it into the oven proof bag or oven dish and put in it the oven for an hour. I do the same in the UK with the exact same packet spices. The difference is very apparent, the chinese chicken breasts contain so much water that i need to further throw the lot into the wok and fry it off. Also there basically is no chicken taste, just the spices and a filler 

 

However some places the pork is ok, i think you need black pork. Lamb is not bad but again its because its doses in spices like cumin and lajiao so tastes great , the essential meat is not great in my opinion.  Does ok for ziran yang rou, style dishes but not as a basic lamb steak 

 

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Jim
2 hours ago, imron said:

But you spit the skin out for grapes anyway right?

Can't afford to at today's prices!

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Michaelyus
18 hours ago, anonymoose said:

FYI, apples are inanimate objects

 

Although in Ojibwe, fruits (including apples) are of the animate gender.

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abcdefg

Article from this morning's New York Times about the price of apples and pork: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/business/china-food-prices-inflation.html 

 

Not sure whether or not it's behind a paywall. I'll copy and paste the text of the article into a collapsed "spoiler" window below. (On the NYT website you can read the article in Chinese if you'd prefer.) 除了经济放缓与贸易战,中国又迎来了食品涨价

 

Spoiler

A Slower Economy. A Trade War. Now, China Faces Rising Food Prices.

Pork and fruit are costing more even as Beijing reassures the public that supplies are plentiful.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/business/china-food-prices-inflation.html


By Alexandra Stevenson and Keith Bradsher

·        June 4, 2019

·         

o    

阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版

BEIJING — Business is normally bustling at the sprawling Xinfandi produce market in southern Beijing, where stores, restaurants and thrifty shoppers buy their fruits and vegetables in bulk.

But more apple sellers were napping than hustling one recent afternoon. The price of apples had nearly doubled, to roughly $1 per pound, and people were spending their money elsewhere.

“Whoever eats apples these days must be loaded,” said Li Tao, who has been selling apples for more than 20 years.

Migrant workers used to be able to afford apples, he said. “Now it’s too expensive,” Mr. Li said.

Already grappling with a slowing economy and President Trump’s trade war, Beijing now has to worry about the rising price of food. It is not just apples. Other fruits and vegetables are more expensive. The price of pork has jumped as the country deals with a devastating swine fever epidemic. Chicken, beef and lamb prices have been creeping up, too.

Apart from food, China does not appear to have a broader inflation problem. But rising food costs have become the talk of China. Government officials are reassuring the country that food supplies are plentiful, even as they take steps to stabilize prices.

“People and economists talk like ships in the night,” said George Magnus, an associate at the China Center at Oxford University. While overall inflation may not be high, he added, rising prices for visible goods like pork, fruit and vegetables can affect consumer spending — a potential problem for China’s economy.

Even a normally sanguine Li Keqiang, China’s premier, looked surprised on May 25 when he visited a fruit vendor in the eastern province of Shandong. “It has gone up so high?” Mr. Li said after the vendor told him that the price of his apples had more than doubled since last year.

 

Already grappling with a slowing economy and President Trump’s trade war, Beijing now has to worry about the rising price of food. It isn’t just apples. Other fruits and vegetables are more expensive.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

 

Already grappling with a slowing economy and President Trump’s trade war, Beijing now has to worry about the rising price of food. It isn’t just apples. Other fruits and vegetables are more expensive.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Various forces are driving up food prices. Chinese officials are still trying to contain the outbreak of swine fever, which doesn’t make people sick but can be fatal in pigs. More than a million pigs have been culled to stop the spread of the disease, though it appears to be continuing. For fruits and vegetables, Chinese authorities blame severe weather and say the price increases will be temporary.

“The prices of fruit and vegetables have caught everyone’s attention. Pork as well,” said Chenjun Pan, executive director of food and agriculture at RaboResearch.

Experts are also watching the spread of a pest called the fall armyworm, a sort of caterpillar that likes to eat rice, sorghum and corn crops. More than 350 square miles of crops have been ravaged, according to official media, though the full impact on crop prices may not be felt until later in the year.

Food prices are rising at a sensitive time. President Xi Jinping has signaled tough times ahead as tensions rise with the United States. Data released on Friday suggest that a nascent economic uptick is beginning to wane and that China could slip back into a slowdown. In March, Mr. Li, the premier, acknowledged that the economy faced pressures as Beijing lowered its expectations for growth this year.

The government has long worried about inflation. It played a role in huge public protests in Tiananmen Square 30 years ago; the anniversary of the government’s violent suppression of the protests is this week. Steep inflation in the 1990s threatened to derail efforts to open the Chinese economy.

For now, the price increases appear limited to food, thanks in part to China’s uncertain economic situation. Rising rents have cooled to single-digit percentage growth this year. Wage increases have slowed, and unemployment is rising. At China’s factories, prices for raw materials and other goods appear tame. China still suffers from excess factory capacity in cars, steel and other industries, meaning production could quickly ramp up if prices rise.

“I don’t think inflation is a big issue for China so far,” said Yu Yongding, a prominent economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, an elite government institution in Beijing.

Chinese workers also have little leverage for seeking higher wages, another possible contributor to inflation. Job losses are already a problem among young white-collar workers as the country’s tech sector has slowed over the winter and spring.

The price of pork jumped 14 percent in April from a year earlier, while broader food prices for consumers rose 6.1 percent, according to government statistics.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

The price of pork jumped 14 percent in April compared with a year earlier, while broader food prices for consumers rose 6.1 percent, according to government statistics. Agriculture officials have warned that pork prices this year could go up by 70 percent. Just over a week ago, the average price of a group of seven types of fruit hit a nearly five-year high of 50 cents per pound, according to official statistics.

Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said recently that officials would “effectively guarantee the market supply of daily necessities such as fruits and vegetables, meat and eggs products.”

In early May, Beijing city economic officials said they were putting in place a contingency plan to deal with rising costs of grains and cooking oil in Beijing. They issued similar notices in 2016 for rising pork prices and in 2017 for vegetables.

The higher prices are beginning to spread to other foods. Higher pork prices have driven some restaurants and families to serve chicken, beef or lamb instead, pushing the price of these meats up. Traders and slaughterhouses buying up extra stocks to sell at a higher price later have also disrupted the country’s “cold chain,” or the network of freezers and temperature-controlled trucks that bring meat from farms to plates.

It isn’t clear whether higher prices could ripple into other parts of the economy. Perceptions of inflation could drive workers at state-owned companies to demand higher wages, said Harry Broadman, a former chief of staff at the White House Council of Economic Advisers who is now the chairman of the emerging markets practice at the Berkeley Research Group, a global consulting firm.

“It’s not a strictly economic issue,” Mr. Broadman said. “It’s a political economy issue.”

Online, discontent is rising. A survey on China’s biggest social media platform by Phoenix Finance asked people to pick an explanation for the sudden surge in fruit prices. The choices did not include a rise in overall inflation, so people added that in their comments.

“These four options are just trying to smooth things over,” one person wrote. “It’s obviously inflation.”

Other online wags focused on new guidelines from China’s nutrition association, which said individuals should eat at least 500 grams of vegetables and 250 grams of fruit each day.

“I can’t afford eating now,” said one commenter. “Fruit is as expensive as gold.”

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

Very informative, thanks. 

In some ways I am not that sympathetic about it. It might teach the Chinese state to stop playing fast and loose with the economy and especially on international trade issues and fairness.

When I talk to friends here they firmly blame trump which is very one sided. Chinese have never played on a level playing field for decades and Trump has decided to do something about it. 

 

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Manuel
13 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Thats my big issue, I am quite into muscle building so need protein. when I ordered it before from My Protein.cn  I needed to add a  身份证 ID which naturally i didn't have. My gf at the time used her's but it was stopped at customs so I had to pay a fair chunk extra, despite what myprotein were  promising of no “customs fee”

 

I usually just buy it from an independent retailer on Taobao or Tmall, it's legit. Just to be absolutely sure I'm getting the real thing, I always buy the unflavoured kind and throw in a banana or a small mango for flavour. Strawberries and blueberries also taste great if the fruit itself tastes good,  unfortunately good strawberries are very hard to come by here. I also mix the whey powder with Quaker oats, banana and pre-soaked raisins, let it sit for a good half hour and bake on a nonstick pan till golden, makes a great convenient post-workout meal—if you have an oven, that is.

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Manuel
1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

Article from this morning's New York Times about the price of apples and pork: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/business/china-food-prices-inflation.html 

That's heavy! The CPC's Achilles tendon surely is social unrest: you cannot contain 1.4 billion people. Not sure if this is entirely linked to the ongoing trade war, because fruit prices were already high before that kicked off. Whatever it is, high fruit prices and fruit being tasteless, i.e. unripe, are to sides of the same problem, because ripe fruit spoils more quickly and therefore is less profitable.

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abcdefg
13 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Thats my big issue, I am quite into muscle building so need protein...

 

As to you and @Manuel finding ways to get more dietary protein, have you looked into eggs and beef? Last year I consciously went about increasing my protein intake (stopping short of using powdered supplements) under the guidance of my coach at the gym. I was lifting heavy and trying to bulk up. (Didn't work, but that's another story.) 

 

Lots of fairly boring ways exist to prepare edible lean beef by using a pressure cooker. I experimented with many of them and found some that were pretty good. Without a pressure cooker, Chinese beef is a non-starter. (Just too damned tough.) But with a careful approach, one can prevail. (Think stews instead of steaks.)  

 

Eggs, on the other hand, are inexpensive and easy to use. 

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Manuel
1 hour ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

When I talk to friends here they firmly blame trump which is very one sided. Chinese have never played on a level playing field for decades and Trump has decided to do something about it. 

 

I could be wrong but, in general, patriots don't like it when people from other countries criticise theirs, even if they have a valid point. Patriotism is taught from an early age in China in schools and through the media, so this sort of thing is to be expected. I'm pretty sure many US patriots react similarly to criticism of their country. Patriotism isn't a good thing IMO because it prevents people from taking a look at themselves and going "You know what? Maybe you are right".

 

Trump stirring things up in China is no altruistic move (the intended beneficiary is the US) but the chain of side effects this could trigger might actually benefit the Chinese people in the long-term if it catalyses social change.

 

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Manuel
25 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

have you looked into eggs and beef? 

I eat eggs, I'm lucky I can get free range eggs from my wife's parents, getting another batch this weekend 😀 I have a pressure cooker, will try the beef thing. 

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imron
31 minutes ago, Manuel said:

this could trigger might actually benefit the Chinese people in the long-term if it catalyses social change.

Or it might actually harm the Chinese people in the long-term if it catalyses social change  塞翁失马,焉知非福 - who can say if the changes will be better or worse.

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Manuel
33 minutes ago, imron said:

Or it might actually harm the Chinese people in the long-term if it catalyses social change  塞翁失马,焉知非福 - who can say if the changes will be better or worse.

 

Just Wait™

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murrayjames
On 6/4/2019 at 5:33 AM, anonymoose said:

FYI, apples are inanimate objects

 

By “inanimate,” @Manuel probably means things that were never animate (like cardboard and sneakers), as opposed to things that were once animate but are no longer (like chicken breasts and cabbage).

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DavyJonesLocker

 

As for protein, I rely on half my intake from whey . Perfectly fine if the milk  source is good and trustable. (So rules out China) It's just milk after all. I've been using it consistently for 25 or more years now. I prefer it as you can isolate the protein part out of your macros and keep calories low .It's been researched in depth for decades and is in no way inferior to protein from other sources.

 

I eat in  China mainly for enjoyment rather than as nutrition as the primary reason for food selection (eating out that is) Nutritional requirements comes from fruit and veg and home cooking. I do a lot more home cooking now for health reasons. My culinary skills are not a patch on @abcdefg but its quite a relief to be able to limit oil, sugar and fatty meat to my liking e.g. 回锅肉 , 红烧牛肉。 Also I'm really not a fan of oil or sauces on  vegetables . They are still cheap here so the quantity of veg I cook is a lot higher than a typical restaurant serving. 

 

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ChTTay

My protein’s Taobao store ships many things from Shanghai, not from the U.K. I assume they just have storage there so they can bulk ship stuff over. The Taobao store still says from the U.K. but it hasn’t been. My friend and I both had protein arrive in 2-3 days after ordering from Shanghai. 

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DavyJonesLocker
2 hours ago, ChTTay said:

My protein’s Taobao store ships many things from Shanghai, not from the U.K. I assume they just have storage there so they can bulk ship stuff over. The Taobao store still says from the U.K. but it hasn’t been. My friend and I both had protein arrive in 2-3 days after ordering from Shanghai. 

 

Does it look like it originally came from the UK? I.e English labels etc.

I ordered it  from the china website and it took 10, 11 days . 

Before that I used to get it direct from UK but there postage went up by a factor of 3 so I stopped.

I need more but I see that there is a good deal on at the moment. (Isn't there always)

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Manuel
10 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Does it look like it originally came from the UK? I.e English labels etc.

 

Yes it does, it basically looks and tastes like the original stuff because it is the original stuff. It's always best to stick with a few flavours you've tried before though, because packaging is easy to forge, but taste isn't. Always ask the day of manufacture just to be sure you are not getting old stock (it has a 2-3-year shelf life though, depending on the batch, so usually). That's if you buy from resellers; if you buy direct from MyProtein (usually not the most competitive prices), then it's all good. 

 

Gyms are becoming popular in China, and consequently so are sports supplements. I haven't seen any MyProtein fakes yet but it's only a matter of time before some piece of sh*t someone starts making fakes and wasting everyone's time. I contacted MyProtein UK customer support to warn them about this. They told me they are able to check if my product is genuine from the batch code and the date of manufacture. So basically, anyone could buy a genuine bag of protein, copy the batch code and date of manufacture and slap it on their own fake product, and as far as MyProtein are concerned it would be genuine. I told them they need unique serial numbers that can be verified only once on their website. Their response: "If you want to be sure you are buying genuine MyProtein products, please purchase from our website". Wow. Genius.

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ChTTay

@DavyJonesLocker

 

Maybe you misunderstood what I meant. It’s from the UK. There is nothing Chinese on it. Not even a sticker. 

 

The official store on a Taobao is one of those “global” stores where you can order stuff from outside of China. It officially should come from the U.K. However, myprotein have obviously had enough of messing around with shipping individual orders across the world so just bulk ship to shanghai then store it. When I bought it on Taobao it said it was coming from the U.K. then actually shipped from Shanghai within the same day I ordered it. Same with my friend. 

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