The price of garlic is raising a stink across China. The research company Wind Info says the wholesale price of garlic has jumped 70 percent this year to reach 12.5 yuan per kilogram -- a record high.
For many in central China's Henan province, fresh garlic is a must-have with staples such as noodles, dumplings and steamed bread.
But local restaurants aren't as likely to provide it free of charge these days. It's easy to see why -- its price has soared.
"Very expensive now. And the price keeps rising. It used to be 3 yuan per kilogram, I remember. Now it's more than 10 yuan. I can't afford it," a Zhengzhou resident said.
A hotbed for garlic production in China is Zhongmu County, Henan province. But even it isn't immune from the rise -- current prices there are three times higher than in June, when the wholesale market price was only four yuan per kilogram. Now many are being forced to pay up to 14 yuan per kilogram at the market.
"I planted 5 mu of garlic last year, and earned 15,000 yuan more than the previous year. Some farmers even earned 200,000 yuan by selling garlic."
"I think it's due to the bad weather last winter. Production was largely reduced. So the prices hike. But I don't think the price will stay high next year, because more farmers are attracted to plant garlic across the country now, which may cause an excess supply," said garlic farmers in Zhongmu county.
"I've never seen such high garlic prices in my 30 years in the business. Many say it's because capital is switching to the garlic from the stock market and real estate. I think this is only part of the story," said Liu Shaochen, director of Zhongmu Garlic Cold Storage Association.
Suan Ni Hen, this three-character expression means "you win" in Chinese. Interestingly, the first character carries the same pronunciation as garlic in Chinese. This winter, many Chinese are using it again to satirize the soaring garlic prices.
Historically, an increase in garlic prices has been a precursor to a higher CPI. So will these skyrocketing garlic prices put out a strong smell of inflation in the air? The experts have different opinions on this one.