The pig farmer
Mr Xu runs a pig farm in Quzhou in southwestern Zhejiang. He buys sows, raises them until they are mature enough to breed, and sells their piglets while still young. Buyers, mostly from out of province, transport the piglets to other areas, where they are raised until ready to be slaughtered.
Rising pork prices naturally affect Xu’s business: He says the price of piglets rose more than four times between early 2006 and February 2008. Prices have since fallen, but are still over three times their 2006 levels, when oversupply depressed prices and caused many farmers to leave the business.
Not all the money from higher prices goes to Xu, though. Buyers provide their own trucks, which saves on transportation, but the cost of pig feed has surged. “Those pig feed suppliers always find a way to rip off a big part of our revenue,” he said.
The meat seller
Ms Sun runs a meat stand in a wet market in Shanghai, selling mainly pork. She says her business has not been very good in recent weeks, blaming the onset of summer, a time when less meat is traditionally consumed.
Prices peaked in February and have since returned to levels similar to last summer – around RMB14 (US$2.02) per jin, or half-kilogram. However, Sun is reluctant to make any forecasts as to what the future price will be. “Prices are very unstable. They change every day, but only a few jiao each way.”
Mr He is a safety supervisor in a hospital in Tongling, a small city in Anhui province. Together with his wife, who works as a babysitter, the couple earns a total of about RMB1,000 (US$145) per month.
In China’s urban areas, about 36% of an average resident’s total expenditure goes toward food, and rural dwellers spend about 43%, according to Zhuang Jian, senior economist at the Asian Development Bank.
“We don’t buy much except food. Our life is quite simple,” He said.
He says he felt the impact of pricier pork in his household spending. However, while food prices have fallen recently, he is worried that they will rise in the future.
He claims to be unconcerned about the potential for rising prices for other goods: “If you can afford it, you buy it. If you cannot, just don’t buy it,” he said.