Trucker quarantines in China lead to supermarket shortages

China’s strict covid rules have the ability to impact supply chains globally, with partial port shutdowns in response to a single covid case, or truckers stuck in quarantine. Hong Kong, which relies on the mainland for 90% (pdf) of its vegetable supply, always stood to be more affected than most places, particularly as covid scrutiny tightened around the Lunar New Year holiday and the Beijing Olympics.

This week, several truck drivers who shuttle vegetables from mainland China to Hong Kong tested positive, causing delivery disruptions and slashing the city’s vegetable supply to one-third of its normal amount on Monday (Feb. 7).

According to (link in Chinese) the Container Transportation Employees General Union, cargo capacity can return to normal levels within a week if no additional cross-border truck drivers test positive for covid in the coming days.

Vegetable prices have quickly shot up across the city. At one market, one catty (around 1.3 lbs) of pea shoots was selling for HK$140 (US$18), double the usual rate. In another neighborhood, cherry tomatoes were readily available but 20% more expensive than the day before. Fear of continuing shortages and further price rises likely spurred some shoppers to make a frantic dash for their greens at supermarkets, however. One photo of a man wheeling a shopping cart stuffed full of cabbage quickly made the rounds online (link in Chinese).

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