THE price of Indian red onions in Johor Baru have been steadily increasing over the past few months, forcing consumers and eateries to switch to cheaper alternatives.
Rozita Ramli, who runs a stall selling nasi campur at the Jalan Cermat Hawker Centre in Taman Maju Jaya, said she had stopped using onions from India in her cooking.
She said previously, a 10kg sack of such red onions cost RM14 to RM18, but now the price had rocketed to RM48.
“I have switched to New Zealand red onions priced at RM33 for a sack of 10kg, ” she said.
Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association (Perusim) secretary Hussein Ibrahim said operators of 24-hour Indian Muslim restaurants had also stopped using Indian red onions in their cooking.
He said they were now using red onions from Australia and China because those were cheaper and readily available.
“We have no choice as the price of red onions from India has increased drastically, ” said Hussein.
He said the restaurant operators would only use red onions from India for special orders such as weddings or kenduri, despite having to pay more for them.
Housewife M. Saraswathy said she had reduced the usage of Indian red onions and shallots in her cooking due to the hike in their prices.
“I still use them in curries as red onions from other countries are not as tasty, ” she said.
A check by StarMetro showed prices of onions imported from other countries had also increased due to low supply of onions from India.
While Indian red onions, which used to sell for RM5 per kilogramme, now retail for RM12 per kilogramme, the price of onions from the Netherlands has also gone up from RM9 to RM12 per kilogramme.
The price of Indian shallots has also steadily increased, from RM15 per kilogramme in October to RM19 in November and RM25 in January. Shallots from Thailand now sell for RM28 per kilogramme compared to RM23 last month.
According to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP), fewer onions were being imported from India due to poor harvest as a result of floods.
The floods, which struck in July 2020, led the Indian government to prohibit the export of all types of onions except the “Bangalore Rose” and “Krishapuram”.
India, Pakistan, China, the Netherlands and Thailand are the biggest exporters of onions to Malaysia.
Locals, however, have a preference for onions from India.
Meanwhile, Johor KPDNHEP director Hairul Anuar Bohro said there was an adequate supply of red onions in the state.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and ensure traders do not take the opportunity to hike up the price of onions, ” he said.
He urged the public to channel information or complaints on lack of supply or price increase through EZ Adu KPDNHEP app, call 03-8882 6088/6245, WhatsApp 019-279 4317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.