What China's Talking About Today: Odd Price Changes in Staples

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Cherries in one part of the country are now more expensive than pork, a leading economic indicator.

cherries april4 p.jpg

Cherries Reuters

Cherry prices at Chonqing markets have surpassed pork prices, traditionally a leading economic indicator for Chinese consumers.

The rising cost of produce was a hot topic on Sina Weibo, where some micro-bloggers were incensed by the "absurd pricing" described in the associated Sina News article.

Chongqing cherries -- of "average quality" -- now cost an average 40RMB (a little over $6) per pound, what some users say is double last year's prices. That's almost double the average price of pork established by Soozhu.com, a leading independent pork industry research company. Sichuan produce industry leaders attributed the sudden spike in prices to low crop yields.

China has long used the rising cost of pork as indicator of consumer good pricing.  

"The price of pork in China could soon rival U.S. payrolls as the world's most watched economic indicator," according to Reuters. "There are few better ways to gauge [domestic demand in China, the world's second-largest economy] than by tracking staple food prices that directly hit discretionary consumer spending," which constitutes 40 percent of China's yearly GDP growth.

And pork prevails as the leading meat on Chinese tables. Some users seemed to wonder why anyone would compare the cost of cherries and an important staple like pork.

"You can't subsist on cherries. You just have a few and you're done. There's nothing terrible about this," wrote user Sichuan Luoer.

"Whether I eat cherries or not is of little importance. It's not one of life's necessities. Who cares," wrote Lao Wang's Wayne.

"[The rising cost] is only natural. Last year, cherries cost a bit over 30.Every year prices go up. Why must we compare cherries to pork? One is fruit, one is meat. The only valid comparison is that you can eat both. [This discussion] is dizzying," wrote user Cheng Yeye.

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Massoud Hayoun is a digital-news producer for Al Jazeera America.

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