JOHOR BARU: Dried ingredients for making dumplings are costlier this year as the prices of most essential items for the glutinous rice snack have gone up by about 10% to 15%.
This is especially in view of the annual Duan Wu celebration (dumpling festival) on June 2, which is the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese calendar.
Checks by The Star at the Johor Jaya wet market here showed that ingredients like small dried shrimps cost RM64 per kilo compared to RM54 last year. The bigger ones cost RM85 per kilo, up from RM80.
As for dried oysters, the price has gone up by RM10, to RM103 per kilo for large ones and RM101 for smaller ones, compared to last year.
Chestnuts, commonly known as gao lat, were at RM58 per kilo, from RM53 last year.
Sundry shop owner Tan Sim Huey said the price of shallots had also increased slightly, by 50 sen, to RM10 per kilo.
“It is normal for the price of such essential items to go up when the festival is near. My customers complain about it but that does not stop them from purchasing them,” she said.
Bamboo leaves are also more expensive this year, said another sundry good shop proprietor, Hairulnizam Aiait, who added that the leaves are priced at RM30 per kilo from the usual RM25 for bigger ones and smaller ones cost RM25 from RM20.
Pork seller Choy Chin Yen said the price of the meat usually used for the dumpling filling is sold at RM15 per kilo from the usual RM14.
He did not raise the price any further due to stiff competition, he added.
“Customers usually prefer part-lean, part-fatty pork to be used for dumplings because it is fragrant without being too oily,” he said.
A check at the Taman Sri Tebrau market showed that the price of salted egg yolk has gone up by 10 sen to 90 sen each.
Sundry stall operator Julie Yee said the price of glutinous rice remained unchanged at RM4.30 per kilo for local rice and RM6 per kilo for Thai-imported rice.
“While the items are more expensive, families are still opting to make their own dumplings rather than buying ready-made ones because it is cheaper to make them at home especially if they have a big family,” she said.
The dumpling festival originated from a practice to commemorate poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself to protest against corrupt practices in China about 1,000 years ago.
Back then, the local folk threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river to prevent his remains from being eaten by fish.