The Pickle Index
Chinese officials, charged with moving 250 million rural farmers into cities over the next decade under the central government’s sweeping “National Plan for Promoting Healthy Urbanization (2011-20),” have developed a “pickle index” for measuring the movement of migrant workers.
According to the South China Morning Post, the country’s National Development and Reform Commission has found that sales of zha cai, a pickled mustard tuber, provide a better guide to population flows than often unreliable provincial statistical data. As an unnamed planner explained to the Economic Observer:
Under normal circumstances, urban consumption levels of convenience foods such as instant noodles and pickled mustard is essentially constant. Therefore, we can assume that volume changes are mainly caused by a city’s floating population.