The Reason Some Chinese Stores Are Selling Out Of Canned Peaches

A confluence of natural disasters and government policy means this has been a tough year for food supplies in China and the cascading effects have come for an usual item: canned peaches. Low stocks of canned peaches may not seem like a big deal, but it's just the latest in the larger problem of food shortages. Swine flu in Africa has led to pork price inflation and the "zero tolerance" COVID policy has caused a shortage of workers, while making it difficult for citizens to access critical food supplies. Combine those problems with a brutal summer drought that left the country's farmers with record low water supplies and you have a recipe for disaster.

Given these challenges, it would seemingly come as a relief that China is finally easing its COVID restrictions. The Associated Press reports that in response to widespread protests over the extremely constricting lockdowns, Chinese officials have recently loosened rules on isolation and testing, which had been blamed for many of the breakdowns in supply chains. CNBC states that the lockdowns have led to a massive drop in economic production. But, the new rule changes may actually be what is causing the shortage of canned peaches — and for an unusual reason.

Chinese officials are concerned peaches are being used as a treatment for COVID

With the beginning of China reopening comes a ramp up in concern over catching COVID in public. This would not on its face seem like a reason to buy canned peaches, but, as Insider reports, many Chinese citizens have wrongfully come to believe that canned peaches can be used to treat the disease. This mistaken idea has led to panic buying of canned peaches, with many retailers completely selling out, and led Chinese state media to warn consumers that the sweet preserved fruit is no substitute for real medicine. The government seems to believe the myth stems from childhood memories, with canned peaches being used as a home remedy for the common cold in some parts of the country.

This would not be the first fake COVID treatment that led to a product shortage. Back at the height of the pandemic, NPR reported that orange juice sales were skyrocketing in the United States over the false belief that vitamin C could prevent infection. Thankfully pandemic restrictions over here have eased to the point where people are less concerned about stockpiling supplies and more concerned about using all their leftover canned food. But, it looks like China is just at the beginning of this process. 

Hopefully, this return to some level of normalcy will also mean the beginning of the end of food shortages for China.