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Cabbage price drop hurts growers, wholesalers, grocers

Updated: 2012-11-20 21:13
By Zhao xinying (

A price slump has followed a good harvest of Chinese cabbages in Beijing, Shandong, and other provinces and cities since the beginning of this month.

The wholesale price of Chinese cabbage has fallen to as low as 0.12 yuan (2 US cents) a kilogram in North China, much to the dismay of the vegetable's growers, according to the latest issue of China Times, a Beijing-based business weekly.

The retail price of the vegetable, which was 0.8 yuan per kilogram on Nov 4, has now bottomed out at about 0.3 yuan per kilogram.

The growers are so discouraged that some of them have given up harvesting these vegetables, choosing instead to let them rot in the fields.

"If you want Chinese cabbages, come and pick in my fields — for free!" Mrs Zhao, a Chinese cabbage grower in South Beijing's Daxing district, was quoted as saying in the China Times report.

Wholesalers are also feeling the pinch.

"We buy from the growers at a price of 0.12 yuan per kilogram and sell them to greengrocers at 0.24 yuan," said a Chinese cabbages sales manager, named Zhang, in Shouguang, Shandong province.

He said he can make hardly any money after deducting the costs of labor, transportation and packing.

Greengrocers have much to complain about, too.

Yu Zhifen, who is in her 50s and sells vegetables at a market in the Hepingli community of Beijing's Dongcheng district, said the low profit of the cabbage business is upsetting.

She said they buy wholesale Chinese cabbages from Daxing, or from her hometown of Gu'an, a small county in Hebei province, with a price of no more than 0.8 yuan per kilogram.

"But we have to take off the first three muddy layers before selling them to the residents at 1.6 yuan a kilogram, which means we have to absorb the loss ourselves." Ding said.

"Besides, we also have to pay the rent, the sanitation fees and some other expenses, so very little money can be made as a result," she said.

Zhang Yanxiang, an expert on growing vegetables from Shouguang, a major vegetable trading center in North China, said there are at least two reasons for the vegetable's price slump this year.

"One is that the weather in October is good for the growth of Chinese cabbages, which benefits a harvest in November and leads to the price drop," Zhang said.

Another reason is that too many farmers are growing Chinese cabbages. "The planting area of Chinese cabbage has increased greatly, and the supply has exceeded the demand too much," he said.

Qin Qingwu, director of the Provincial Information Research Center of Shandong Academy of Social Sciences, agrees with Zhang.

He said fresh vegetables are hard to store and the market cannot absorb so many Chinese cabbages at a time, and that has led to the price slump.

"Farmers make their own decisions on their planting portfolio," Qin said. "Growing Chinese cabbage was considered profitable in previous years and lots of farmers flocked in, but it turns out that things went contrary to their wishes."

But some say the price drop won't last long.

Zhang predicts that the price will cease dropping when the weather gets much colder. "By then, there are not many vegetables in the fields, and people can rely only on vegetables from greenhouses. With less supply, the price of Chinese cabbage may bounce back," he said.