Food supply change raises price hike fear

About 20 billion yuan (HK$24.3 billion) worth of fresh produce suitable for export to Hong Kong will instead be sold in the mainland next year, raising fears of price hikes locally.The new arrangement, according to a brand promotion center under the Ministry of Commerce, is designed to help exporters sell some of their produce in the domestic market if there is an adequate supply in Hong Kong.

The first batch of such products which include meat, poultry, eggs, milk, vegetables and rice will go to 600,000 people living in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, the Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta.

The center said that under the scheme, products for domestic consumption from the exporters will be subject to the same, if not higher, standards for export to Hong Kong or overseas.

Yuen Cheung, chairman of the Imported Vegetable Wholesale Merchants Association, said the mainland supplies about 90 percent of the vegetables consumed in Hong Kong.

Supply is usually adequate but the situation could change during bad weather. He said prices could go up if some of the produce is diverted to mainland markets.

Kowloon Fruit and Vegetable Merchants Association vice chairman Cheung Chi-cheung said the new initiative will have a limited impact.

People’s Daily Gansu bureau chief Lin Zhibo signaled the need for change when he wrote on Weibo: “For long periods of time, we have left the best food for export and supply to Hong Kong and Macau. This is discrimination against the mainland people.”

He said mainland standards should be unified with export standards.


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