Demand for lemons surges as Chinese seek immunity against Covid

BEIJING: Business has suddenly exploded for China’s lemon farmers as people turn to natural remedies to combat the growing wave of Covid-19 infections.
“The market is burning a lot,” said a farmer named Wen, who only gave his last name when contacted by phone. Wen grows lemons on an area of ​​about 130 acres (53 hectares) in Anyue, a county in southwestern Sichuan province, which produces about 70% of China’s lemons. He said his sales have skyrocketed to 20 to 30 tons a day in the past week, from just 5 or 6 tons previously.
The surge in demand for Wen’s lemons comes from cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where people flock to buy rich food. vitamin C to boost their immunity in the latest battle against the pandemic. As cold and flu drugs run out, this is yet another example of the unprepared public being forced to face the government’s abrupt change to the Covid Zero policies that have ruled over the past three years.
“The price of lemons has doubled in the last four or five days,” said another farmer in Anyue named Liu Yanjing. Liu said he works 14 hours a day to process orders from around the country. Before the latest price hike, lemons were selling for 2 or 3 yuan/kg, or about 30 to 40 US cents. Now they are 6 yuan, he said.
According to local media, sales of other fruits including oranges and pears have also skyrocketed on Dingdong Maicai, an e-commerce platform that sells fresh produce. Canned yellow peaches are another item in demand, as some Chinese believe this sweet and cold fruit can improve appetite, especially when you’re sick. Product sales at Freshippo, the grocery chain owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, have increased by nearly 900%, according to a report.
Just last month, China’s fruit and vegetable farmers were worried about tons of fresh produce piling up due to the impact of the country’s strict virus restrictions on shipping. According to Wen, the price of lemons in Anyue villages is almost zero because the stockpiles are built without a domestic or export market for sale, resulting in heavy losses for farmers. Now all has changed.
“It seems like people are suddenly realizing how good lemons are,” said farmer Liu. “I hope awareness will last.”


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