Hawkers: Price increase possible

To cost more: Muhammad Khalil’s helper with a plate of mee goreng at his stall in Batu Lanchang Food Court. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Your mee goreng or kuey teow th’ng (kuey teow soup) here will likely cost about 50 sen more now.

Food traders have attributed this to the rising cost of ingredients.

Mee goreng seller Muhammad Khalil said the move may be unavoidable as he is paying more for materials than what customers pay for a plate of noodles.

“We have not revised the price for a while. The previous price increase was in 2018,” said the 35-year-old.

He said 3kg of yellow noodles cost RM8.50 now compared to RM7.50 previously.

“Coupled with the hike in egg prices, cooking oil and other raw materials, it really leaves us paying a lot more.

“We hope the situation will be better soon otherwise we will need to increase the price to cover our costs,” he added.

An economy rice seller who only wanted to be known as Cheah, said she had been bearing the weight of rising cost for weeks.

“We can’t raise prices as customers will feel the pinch. So we maintain the price, but reduce the portions.

“Just a few days ago, one of our suppliers told us that the price of eggs will go up again.

“We faced this situation with our chicken, meat and vegetable supplies,” she added.

Cheah said that they stopped selling certain vegetables, like broccoli, as the price has increased from RM10 per kg to between RM20 and RM22 per kg.

“As an economy rice seller, I can modify my daily menu. But for other hawkers who sell a specific dish, the price hike would be harder on them,” she said.

Penang Hawkers’ Association president Datuk Lam Tong Ying said such increases might be unavoidable in coming weeks, noting that some hawkers already revised their prices.

He said the cost of basic necessities and fresh food in markets, such as eggs, cooking oil, meat, chicken and vegetables, had gone up due to inflation, cost of transport and animal feed, among others.

“Some hawkers have no choice but to raise prices from RM4 to RM5. They need to bear the operating cost, rental fees and other expenses.”

He said those operating in food complexes under the local councils might be able to retain prices or impose a slight increase as rental there is cheaper.

“For hawkers operating in high-cost areas, like Pulau Tikus or private coffee shops, they may need to increase prices a little more,” he noted.

Lam said the association had made it clear to its members that such price increases must be justifiable.

“They can do so, but reasonably. They must not incur the wrath of customers. Likewise, I hope customers will understand the situation hawkers are in.

“This is not just a problem here, but globally. We can see many countries facing a price hike for food products and raw materials,” he added.

A Penang spokesman of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry said consumers could lodge a complaint with the ministry if they come across items that are unreasonably priced.

“Consumers just need to take a picture of the product or item and send it via WhatsApp to 019-279 4317 along with the shop name, location and price,” he said.

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