Wed, May 09, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Plum rains to affect vegetable prices

BIG DATA:Researchers have created information models to estimate and forecast retail prices of crops in traditional markets, supermarkets and convenience stores

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Vegetable prices might fluctuate due to the upcoming plum rain season, the Council of Agriculture said on Monday, citing research that used electronic invoice data to study produce retail prices.

The plum rain season is generally from May to June and is so named because it coincides with the time when plums in southern China ripen.

The council last year commissioned the Taiwan Agricultural Information Technology Association and Dataa Development Co to conduct research on crop consumption.

From June last year, the association has worked with the Ministry of Finance’s Fiscal Information Agency, utilizing the agency’s data on 2.9 billion electronic invoices from 2015 to last year to study the prices of 15 crops, association section chief Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) said at an event in Taipei.

Cabbage was the most popular vegetable, with revenue of NT$1.67 billion (US$56.1 million), while bananas were the most favored fruit, with revenue of NT$2.94 billion, she said.

The six special municipalities accounted for 80.17 percent of vegetable and fruit sales, with Taipei making up 25.69 percent of the total, she added.

The researchers established information models for estimating and forecasting the retail prices of crops in traditional markets, supermarkets and convenience stores, Dataa general manager Emma Yang (楊雅惠) said.

While the council has monitored the wholesale prices and production areas of crops, it has less understanding about retail prices, which are closer to ordinary consumers, she said.

For example, the price of domestically produced cabbage — which has been falling since last month — is expected to rise in the next few weeks, she added.

Yang’s forecast was supported by Agricultural and Food Agency Deputy Director-General Su Mao-shiang (蘇茂祥), who said cabbage production in low-altitude areas is ending and is to be succeeded by cabbage grown at high altitudes, which can fetch higher prices of about NT$100 each.

However, with the coming of the plum rain season, crop prices might be affected by natural disasters, Su said, adding that the agency would be on the alert for unusual price changes.

Monday’s presentation was preliminary, and the council might need to gather more data about other agricultural products before it can officially launch the big data platform, Chen said.

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