Monday, 2 March 2009

Chinese Marketplaces Feel Economic Downturn

Whether customers are rich or poor, or poverty-stricken beggars, everyone is cutting back at the Fong Pong market in Beijing.
Vendors report that people are buying cheaper cuts of meat, making fewer dishes, even saying ‘no’ to a ten fen glass of water with their ‘five jiao’ lunch special of deep fried earthworms in badger’s bile.

Dog and cat seller Hion Hog says people are still buying fresh meat but only the cheaper cuts such as tails and paws. Special orders for panda prostates, sea snake venom and tiger penises have dropped to zero.

Shopper Hi Lo said a home-cooked meal for ten used to cost her 40 yuan (£1:50p) but now that’s risen up to 50% more.
"I’ve had to cut back on seafood," she said. "Before, we used to eat sewer-fresh turdfish three times a week. Now we can only afford it once a month."

Me Li Down, who runs the Sweaty Sock restaurant in Beijing told a Michelin Guide reporter she is ordering 90% less food from the market as most of her regular student customers are either broke or fasting in protest for Tibetan autonomy and / or the right to practice Falun Gong in public parks.

The Fong Pong market has one of Beijing's best selections of both local and imported goods.
Market manager Cash Mi Cheque told the media "Usually European expatriate customers would have a couple of glasses of yak piss with their lunch, now they can’t afford such delicacies with the strong Chinese yuan cutting the spending power for their own currencies.”
“Their regular orders of Pol Pot genocide special insta-noodles have fallen by the wayside. Now the best they can afford with their luncheon vouchers is boiled grass and rice or the rat porridge.”

Luckily for vendor Lu Belu, business has remained steady for her vegetable stall. In the face of the economic crisis Ms Belu said Chinese people are going back to buying basic vegetables like dock leaves, acorns and the cuttings from her privet hedges.

Food prices here have dropped since the Chinese New Year - but even so people are cautious with their spending.

Nimble-fingered shoplifter Mrs. Ray Ling said she has changed the eating habits of her family of twelve in the last few months due the deepening recession.
"Today we’re having a treat and cooking the budgerigar for dinner, but with the financial crisis and none of us having a job it’s going to be boiled cardboard and pak choy for the rest of the week.”

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