31 Dec 2010 09:40

MOFCOM directs big city supermarkets to source regional produce

Beijing. December 31. INTERFAX-CHINA - Supermarkets in China's large to medium-sized cities are expected to source a third of their fresh agricultural produce directly from regional farmers under the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), according to China's Minister of Commerce Chen Deming.

Chen made the comments at a Dec. 29 meeting in Beijing jointly held by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA).

As far back as 2008, the ministries have urged closer links between supermarkets and farmers to reduce logistical costs and consumer prices, Chen said.

Local farmers are encouraged to supply schools, restaurants and factory canteens directly while supermarkets may source produce beyond their provincial borders, Chen added.

The MoA said Dec. 30 that closer relations between suppliers and retailers would improve the quality and safety of agricultural products through increased awareness of consumer requirements and production standards,

The MoA said roughly 1,000 brands of agricultural products supplied directly to supermarkets received its quality certification since 2008. However, the ministry did not disclose the number of brands that failed to meet their standards.

China's consumers have faced sharply rising food prices this year, stoking concerns of the potentially destabilizing effect of inflation. Vegetable prices in 36 cities rose 62.4 percent year-on-year in November to RMB 3.9 ($0.59) per kilogram.

- Li Xin