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Sunday, 12 January 2014

Consumers have to pay more for most CNY festive goodies

WITH less than three weeks to Chinese New Year, consumers are having to pay up to a third more than last year for certain festive goodies.

Reasons given by retailers and wholesalers include rising costs of raw ingredients and supply issues.

A Straits Times check with a dozen stores in Chinatown and Bugis shows prices of fish maw and dried mushrooms have gone up by as much as 30%.

In Chinatown, seafood wholesaler Yau Shing is selling fish maw at between S$7 (RM18.20) and S$80 (RM208) per 100g, up 30% from last year. At Teck Soon Medical Hall, dried mushrooms cost as much as S$10 (RM26) per 100g, against S$8 (RM20.80) last year.

Yau Shing’s owner Jeff Poon, 58, said the price of fish maw has risen because of higher demand from China. The supply is also falling because of overfishing.

In Bugis, retailer Eng San Ginseng and Birdnest sells dried mushrooms for between S$2.50 (RM6.50) and S$8 per 100g. This is about 20% more than last year, due to a shortage of supply from China and South Korea, said owner Lee Yam Poh, who is in his 70s.

The good news is: Prices of dried abalone, dried scallops and sea cucumber remain consistent. Even with higher demand, shop owners say they are not raising prices so as to stay competitive.

“It’s a small market, everyone is selling the same thing,” said Chow Khai Cheng, 57, who owns Teck Yin Soon Chinese Medical Hall in Chinatown.

An honorary president of the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association, Allan Tan, said the festive items have been selling well since last week.

Prices of festive goods such as pineapple tarts have also gone up due to the rising costs of ingredients like flour, butter and sugar, said retailers.

Le Cafe Confectionery & Pastry, which has a branch near Bugis, has increased the price of its pineapple tarts by 10 cents (26 sen) a container. At Chop Tai Chong Kok bakery in Chinatown, a container of about 50 pineapple tarts costs S$35.90 (RM93.34), S$1 (RM2.60) more than last year.

At bak kwa chain Lim Chee Guan, which has outlets in Chinatown, the sliced barbecued pork was selling at S$50 (RM130) per kg. Owner Rod Lim, 62, said it is too early to say if prices will rise further, but last year’s peak was S$50 per kg. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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