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Feast for the pocketbook

Updated: 2014-12-24 07:33
By Mike Peters (China Daily)

Feast for the pocketbook


Christmas dinner that includes turkey, sausage, Brussels sprouts, swede, roast potato, parsley potato, caramelized onion and pecan pie will contain some bargains when compared to prices last year. [Photo by Mike Peters/Alex L. Fong/China Daily]

Falling food prices mean cooking at home for the holidays can be a sweet deal this year, Mike Peters reports.

Mindy Yan is trolling the aisles of Jenny's Shop with a big smile. The Chinese-American from San Francisco has enjoyed laying out a Christmas spread every year since her family came to Beijing in 2009, but the cost of a dinner for her own family of three and her sister's family of five has varied wildly over those years.

But 2014 is going to be one of the good years. She'll pay 48 yuan/kilo ($7.71) for her imported turkey instead of last year's 58 yuan. There are imported peas in the freezer, but she'll take the popular Chinese brand Weili instead, hovering between the 250-gram packages (5.5 yuan) and a jumbo 1,000g bag (20.2 yuan). And her favorite taste of the holidays, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, is 16.9 yuan for a 379-gram can.

"Yes, I think making Christmas dinner will be cheaper this year," says Jenny Wang, general manager of Jenny's Shop in the capital's suburban district of Shunyi.

Globally, prices for foodstuffs are down, and commodities analysts in the UK recently told the Financial Times that the overall cost of a turkey dinner should be down about 5 percent in 2014, after three years of rising prices. That Christmas bonus is reflected in the aisles of Chinese stores like Jenny's Shop, where shelves are stocked with imported goods sought by expat customers.

China's farms paint a similar picture: While greenhouse-grown vegetables are seeing a seasonal price rise, root vegetables that are musts on the holiday plate are now bargains. The average wholesale price of potatoes was 1.98 yuan per kg on Dec 16 nationwide, down 0.77 yuan per kg as compared with the same period last year, according to ymt360.com, an agricultural goods information and trade website. Sweet potatoes' wholesale price, meanwhile, fell from 1.93 yuan per kg at the beginning of December to 1.5 yuan last week.

The price of raw milk price dropped by more than 1,100 yuan per ton in December as compared with February, according to Wang Yonggang, president of an animal husbandry company based in Qingdao. However, dairy products haven't seen an evident fall in price at supermarkets.

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