Saturday, August 15, 2020

China May Be Facing Food Shortages, Launches "Clean Plate" Campaign to Cut Waste

First up, from Taiwan News, August 13:

China facing food shortage after months of flooding, infestations
Xi's description of food waste as 'shocking and distressing' could portend looming food shortage
Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping's call for an end to food waste is a sign that the communist country is facing a shortage of grains and pork after months of flooding, insect infestations, the African swine fever (ASF), and the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to China's state-run media mouthpiece Xinhua, Xi called for an end to food waste describing the problem as "shocking and distressing." In a quote of Xi posted by state-owned TV channel CGTN, he does not directly acknowledge a shortfall in food production but describes the coronavirus outbreak as a warning sign: "Though China has reaped a bumper grain harvest for years, it is still necessary to have the awareness of a food security crisis. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this year has sounded the alarm for us."

This is the second time that Xi has given instructions on China's grains within a month, raising eyebrows among China watchers as a sign of a possible food crisis. On July 22, Xi toured cornfields in Jilin Province and cryptically said: "The more risks and challenges we face, the more we need to stabilize agriculture and ensure the safety of grain and major non-staple foods," reported Beijing Review.

On Wednesday (Aug. 12), the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration announced that its purchases of wheat had dropped by nearly 10 million tons from the previous year. According to the government agency, as of Aug. 5, its purchases of wheat reached 42.857 million tons, a year-on-year drop of 9.383 million tons.

Its purchases of rapeseed reached 706,000 tons, a drop of 51,000 tons over the same period last year. Despite the massive floods of rice fields, purchases of rice reached 2.641 million tons, a year-on-year increase of 126,000 tons.

Meanwhile, food prices in China climbed by about 10 percent in July for the same period last year, while pork prices skyrocketed by 86 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The latter can be attributed to the loss of 180 million pigs or 40 percent of the national herd to ASF last year and reports of fresh outbreaks this year following the floods....

And from the BBC:

China launches 'Clean Plate' campaign against food waste
China has stepped up measures to reduce food waste, after President Xi Jinping called the amount wasted "shocking and distressing". 

The "Clean Plate Campaign" comes after Mr Xi highlighted that Covid-19 had "sounded the alarm" on food waste.

He added that China had to "maintain a sense of crisis about food security".
It also comes after weeks of mass flooding across southern China which left farms wrecked and ruined tons of produce.

Chinese state news agency the Global Times sought to downplay what it called "media hype" that China was headed for a food crisis, made worse by the epidemic.
State TV also criticised livestreamers who filmed themselves eating large amounts of food.

Following Mr Xi's message, the Wuhan Catering Industry Association urged restaurants in the city to limit the number of dishes served to diners - implementing a system where groups must order one dish less than the number of diners....