Expats it’s time to start renegotiating your contracts! The Shanghai Daily reports in the past week the price of zongzi (粽子), the delicious pyramid-shaped dumpling made of sticky rice and meat, has according to reliable sources increased by a whopping 10 percent. The treats are now fetching a prohibitive 2.50 RMB. The reason for the increase is probably due to the coming Dragon Boat Festival and the ever-rising price of pork. While there are rumors that the Duke Brothers might be behind the rise, others believe that the demand for pork in an increasingly wealthy China is outstripping supply of the animal. In the past year pork prices have risen 70 percent, a record level.
Some zongzi outlets have tried to keep prices steady by shrinking the product. One customer at Lawsons said, “I could eat meat at my second bite before, but now I cannot see any meat after several bites, and there is just a little meat.” Despite the changing prices and indignation of loyal zongzi eaters, the sales of the snack have been remaining steady at most stores. Whether this is due to a general disregard of the new prices or the necessity of eating zongzi during the Dragon Boat Festival remains to be seen.
After all, zongzi are a food with an intriguing history. Unlike many foods invented for sustenance, zongzi were invented as a way to distract fishes from eating the dead body of the beloved poet Qu Yuan following his sucide by drowning.
And as the New York Times would have us know, the rise in China’s pork prices (and the rising RMB if we may add) signals the end to cheap output as “few things are as essential to the Chinese as their pigs.” Shanghaiist certainly hopes that the zongzi prices are merely a temporary surge as the festival arrives, otherwise we might have to quit our jobs as poor writers and switch to the lucrative pig farming trade.