Air pollution causing a spike in Chinese seafood market prices

Published on
December 22, 2016

Air pollution in China is causing a rise in prices for higher-grade products like shrimp.

Vendors at the the Jingshen market in Beijing’s south-easterly suburb of Fengtai told SeafoodSource that severe pollution has made air transport more difficult and squeezed the supply of shrimp from Shandong, a key base supplying northern China and Shanghai. As a recent example of the problem, the city’s airport was closed for 10 hours recently due to a mix of fog and smog.

“We are not getting shrimp in the predictable manner we are used to, this is hurting our supply and we have to charge more,” one independent trader operating a stall at the market said.

Shrimp prices have climbed as high as CNY 250 (USD 35.97, EUR 34.42) per kilogram in the last week, according to the vendor – a jump of 35 percent from early November.

By contrast, prices have been steady for freshwater supply sourced locally, with carp prices at CNY 10 (USD 1.44, EUR 1.38) per kg, down 5 percent month-on-month, according to Jingshen’s own internally published pricing data. Carp is trucked in from rural regions of Beijing and nearby Tianjin.

Despite major government efforts to close polluting industries in neighboring regions, pollution in Beijing remains a worrying problem. Movements in food prices related to pollution could prove dangerous for authorities in Beijing. Pollution has become a sensitive issue for China’s one-party state as it has been a frequent trigger of community protests. Chinese police this weekend forcefully prevented a would-be demonstration in downtown Chengdu, the huge city in southwestern China.

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