Travelers wear face masks as they stand in the arrivals area at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. China closed off a city of more than 11 million people Thursday, halting transportation and warning against public gatherings, to try to stop the spread of a deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds and spread to other cities and countries in the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Travelers wear face masks as they stand in the arrivals area at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. China closed off a city of more than 11 million people Thursday, halting transportation and warning against public gatherings, to try to stop the spread of a deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds and spread to other cities and countries in the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

China’s restaurants likely to suffer over Lunar New Year as virus spreads

By Alfred Cang Time of article published Jan 23, 2020

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INTERNATIONAL - Dining with dozens of extended family members at popular local restaurants is a tradition for China’s 1.4 billion people during the Lunar New Year holiday. But this time, celebrations are likely to look very different.

The deadly coronavirus in China that’s killed 17 people and infected hundreds so far is conjuring up memories of the SARS epidemic that gripped the country in 2003. 

This will lead people to avoid going out into crowded areas including restaurants, where diners typically consume more food than they would at home, according to Shanghai JC Intelligence Co., an agricultural consultancy.

Meat especially is more popular at restaurants than at home, so consumption of that type of food is likely to be weaker than expected, said analyst Alice Xuan.


Dining with dozens of extended family members at popular local restaurants is a tradition for China’s 1.4 billion people during the Lunar New Year holiday. But this time, celebrations are likely to look very different.
Also, data from the past decade show that prices of pork and beef tend to drop after the new year break, meaning they’re likely to fall this year too, Xuan said. Chinese holidays officially start on Friday and run through Jan. 30.

The Commodity prices are on course for a decline this week, with futures for Chinese soybean meal and rapeseed meal -- used to feed livestock -- posting losses. 

Global commodities also tumbled during the SARS outbreak in 2003 as wide-spread panic slashed retail and transport demand.

BLOOMBERG 

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