Vegetables become real luxuries in locked down Chinese cities

Forget about Hermès or Louis Vuitton, vegetables are now the real luxury in the Chinese cities of Changchun and Shanghai. While over 9 million residents in the North-eastern city have once again returned to a restricted life on 11 March amid new COVID outbreaks, the financial hub of China has gone through a phased lockdown, with 5.7 million in the city’s Pudong New Area being told to stay at home for four days from 28 March while the Western half is set to enter a lockdown this coming Friday.

As lockdown restrictions kick in, another city-wide battle begins as locals scramble to stock up on daily essentials in preparation for a restrained life, with vegetables becoming the most sought after. While supermarket shelves have been stripped bare with consumers thronging, online grocery shopping services such as Ding Dong, Hema Fresh, and Meituan Maicai are all in high demand.

It is reported that residents have been setting alarms for as early as 5 am and several others throughout the day in the hopes to make online orders for fresh food. Although supplies of these goods are believed to be sufficient, it is the shortage of labour for the delivery services that has been disappointing many shoppers.

Video: Mai Cai (Grocery Shopping) by CATI2/Douyin

With this occurrence showing no signs of ending anytime soon, growing public outcry has resulted in the local authority in Changchun to apologise on 29 March for the difficulty in grocery shopping and delay in delivery service. It also promises greater support for food supply and price control on top of efforts to enable life to get back to normal as soon as possible.

On the other hand, people in Shanghai have adopted a rather sarcastic approach, with a song entitled “Mai Cai” (Grocery Shopping) becoming an online sensation. The song created by three young local rappers is sung in the Shanghainese dialect with their rap joking about anything from panic buying to taking COVID tests, which turns out to have resonated with many who are in this stressful situation.

The song published on WeChat on 27 March soon saw views surpass 100,000 within 20 minutes, and was played more than 200,000 times on one of China’s biggest music streaming platforms NetEase Cloud a day after release, garnering over 4 million views on the Chinese TikTok Douyin.     


Join our newsletter