Wuhan strives to ensure food supply to residents

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Vegetables are packed at Wuhan Baishazhou Agricultural Market in Hubei province on Wednesday. The largest agro-produce wholesale market in Central China, which remains open, ensures farm product supplies for Wuhan residents. WANG JING/CHINA DAILY 

Authorities in Wuhan, epicenter of the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak in Hubei province, have stepped up efforts to ensure the adequate supply and delivery of daily necessities to residents following the announcement of a community lockdown in an effort to further contain the epidemic.

Thanks to the coordination of the central government, a large number of materials have been introduced to Wuhan recently to ensure the city has an abundant supply of daily necessities. They include 2,000 metric tons of central reserved meat, 80,000 tons of rice, 80,000 tons of flour, 120,000 tons of edible oil, 29,000 tons of vegetables, 2,900 tons of eggs and 12 million packs of instant noodles, officials said.

Wang Zhonglin, secretary of the Communist Party of China's Wuhan City Committee, urged suppliers and logistics companies on Wednesday to make coordinated efforts to ensure market supply and commodity prices are stable and delivery services are smooth.

During an inspection tour in a fresh food processing and delivery center of Zhongbai Holdings Group, Wang said that residents staying home help prevent and control the epidemic, but ensuring their daily necessities is essential.

The city released a public notice on Feb 14 that required all residential communities to be locked down to reduce population movement and curb transmissions of the contagion.

Some district authorities further required that starting on Feb 18, individuals without authorized passes not be allowed to enter supermarkets. Instead, they encouraged residential communities to organize group purchases in line with residents' needs.

Jiang Zhihui, manager of the vegetable department of Wuhan Baishazhou Agricultural Market, the largest agro-produce wholesale market in Central China, told China Daily that vegetable supplies, which are important for people's daily lives, are adequate enough to meet the demands of the whole city.

"Since the onset of the outbreak, we introduced 2,300 tons of various vegetables every day, and the daily transaction volume remains at around 2,000 tons," Jiang said, adding that the prices fluctuated mildly.

Rao Lin, a local wholesaler engaging in the business of Chinese cabbages and tomatoes, said he trades around 40 tons of vegetables every day with the buyers mostly from individuals or delivery companies.

They will deliver all kinds of vegetables to communities according to residents' demands, Rao said, adding that the price of each package is decided in line with the weight and the combination of vegetables.

Yu Xiong, who operates the delivery business in the market, said the epidemic forced him to change the traditional business model, and he will try to cater to the needs of his customers.

"I have many customer groups on my WeChat. They involve community workers and organizers of group purchases in different districts. I will work out different packages in accordance with their diversified demands," Yu said, adding that community workers will help distribute the ordered vegetables to residents.

Online purchasing has also become more popular. Online platforms of supermarkets such as Zhongbai Cangchu, RT-Mart and Carrefour have promoted group-purchase businesses through online orders and dedicated deliveries.

Huang Mengyun, manager of the Zhongbai Supermarket in Hongshan district, said that the number of online orders she receives has surged recently.

"We try every means to deliver the commodities residents ordered. However, due to inadequate human resources, we have to tell our customers their orders might be delayed until the next day," Huang said.

"We understand they are anxious due to the lockdown, so we will comfort them so that they will not panic."