BEIJING, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Chinese officials have urged their country's cooking-oil producers to hold the line on prices as the drought in the United States pushes soybean prices higher.
China is the leading importer of U.S. soybeans and has seen the price of the staple march higher this year, which is fueling higher prices on store shelves.
"Soybean oil is the most important edible oil in China ... which makes us vulnerable to the drought," Ma Wenfeng, a Beijing agribusiness consultant, told the Los Angeles Times.
Beijing has been hustling to find alternative sources of soybeans around the world and is pressing its own cooking oil producers to keep retail prices in check.
The Times said Sunday the surging domestic demand for cooking oil and animal feed has made price stability even more important. "Inflation has a long history of sparking discontent, so obviously it's on the forefront of the Chinese leadership's mind," said Alistar Thornton, an analyst for HIS Global Insight in Beijing.
There may, however, be a silver lining to the soybean surge. Nutritionists are hopeful Chinese consumers will cut back on the amount of oil they use for cooking, which would result in fewer calories and less fat in their diets.
"With economic development, people now have enough money for cooking oil, so they spoil themselves by using lots and making their food delicious," explained Fan Zhihong, a nutrition expert at China Agricultural University. "They'll even make a healthy dish of dark leafy greens into a fatty dish."
|Additional World News Stories|