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2-min read

Why Some Chinese Shoppers are Paying Whopping Rs 5,000 for a Cup of Tea

Residents are willing to pay as much as 500 yuan (over Rs 5,000) for the tea— which normally sells for 19-23 yuan (Rs 190- Rs 230) in the black market.

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Updated:June 11, 2019, 3:08 PM IST
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Why Some Chinese Shoppers are Paying Whopping Rs 5,000 for a Cup of Tea
The trade war with US has created an opportunity for old, struggling Chinese consumer brands to revive | Image credit: Reuters

Chinese citizens are showing their support for local brands amid the country’s escalating “trade war” with the United States— even if that means queuing for hours to buy products in the black market at exorbitant prices.

“At a time when more than US$300 billion worth of Chinese exports to the United States face increased tariffs of 25 per cent, milk tea by storied Shanghai brand White Rabbit is selling at a premium of about 2,000 per cent – all in the name of national pride,” according to a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report.

Residents are willing to pay as much as 500 yuan (over Rs 5,000) for the tea— which normally sells for 19-23 yuan (Rs 190- Rs 230)— in the black market.

“It is not about the taste,” 40-year-old Wang Xiaoliang said after he had spent about two hours in queue of hundreds of other shoppers for a cup of White Rabbit milk tea last Saturday.

“We just want to show our support for local brands at a time when the US government is plotting to undermine China’s economic development,” Xiaoliang was quoted as saying.

White Rabbit milk-flavoured confectionery shot to prominence in 1972, when then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai presented them to US President Richard Nixon.

Last month, state-owned food processor Guan Sheng Yuan (Group), which owns White Rabbit, set up a pop-up store at CapitaMall Luone shopping centre on Shanghai’s Xujiahui Road along with two local partners to sell White Rabbit milk tea.

The confectionery brand is making and selling milk tea for the first time in its 60-year history in an attempt to launch more crossover products to rejuvenate the White Rabbit name.

The pop-up was met with great fanfare and enthusiasm with some shoppers queuing up four to five hours for a cup, according to social media posts.

Touts are using the situation to their advantage.

One said at least several hundred yuan could be earned per day by scalping White Rabbit tea products. The tea can normally be sold for about 100 yuan by scalpers, but some consumers were willing to pay as much as 500 yuan for a cup, he was quoted as saying by SCMP.

Andy Yin, a shopper, said it was an “honour” to have purchased the tea even though it didn’t “really have the White Rabbit confectionery taste.”

The trade war has created an opportunity for old, struggling Chinese consumer brands, according to Zhou Shiyu, a senior executive with Shanghai Zhengzhang Laundering and Dyeing, a cleaning products brand in the city.

“But local brands need to work harder to improve their manufacturing techniques, and enhance management skills, to catch up with foreign rivals in terms of quality, packaging and efficiency of distribution.”

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