THERE will be a steady supply of mandarin oranges or lokam every week from now until the first week of Chinese New Year.
Sunshine Wholesale Mart Sdn Bhd director Yee Kam Ming said the supermarket chain in Penang received its first shipment lokam of the year on Wednesday night.
“We will be having shipments of lokam every week until Chinese New Year.
“Due to the high yield, there will be sufficient supply for the festive season, ” he said.
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are several challenges in importing lokam into the country.
“We have to overcome problems such as shipping freight, container equipment space and arrival time.
“The freight has increased by more than 100% and container space is limited as there is a bottleneck of supply due to the pandemic.
“The shipping arrival times are not accurate and are always delayed.
“However, although the freight cost is increased, the retail price of our lokam is still lower than last year.
“We decided to decrease our profit so that everyone can have a pleasant Chinese New Year, ” he said.
Yee said this year’s harvest of lokam is “the best in 10 years” due to the huge harvest, fruit quality and low ex-farm prices.
“The production of lokam increased by 30% due to good growing conditions and natural reversal of the drought suffered in the previous season.
“The growing condition is ideal with enough rain and sunshine.
“The taste of lokam is good, aromatic and flavourful, ” he said.
Mandarin oranges have cultural significance for Chinese New Year because the Cantonese word for it, ‘kam’, sounds exactly like the word for gold.
It has been a long tradition for the Chinese to give mandarin oranges to each other during the festive season.
It is so sought after during Chinese New Year that United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that 35.4 million tonnes of it were produced in 2019.