Lokam prices up by 40%

Quality control: (From right) Bryan Wong, Sunshine Wholesale Mart director Yee Kam Ming and senior manager Wong Sai Keong inspecting the first shipment of lokam in Bandar Baru Ayer Itam.

GEORGE TOWN: The joyous arrival of almost 10,000 mandarin oranges – a must-have for Chinese New Year – is slightly tempered by the retail price, which will be up by as much as 40%, no thanks to the disruption to the global logistics chain.

“The upside is that people can expect the mandarin oranges, locally called lokam, to be sweeter this season, owing to less rainfall across farmlands in China,” said Sunshine Wholesale Mart marketing and communication manager Bryan Wong.

Sunshine Farlim Shopping Mall, which received its first container shipment of lokam yesterday, has fixed the prices for every 4kg crate at RM19.80 (small oranges), RM22.80 (medium), RM26.80 (large) and RM32.80 (extra large).

At the last Chinese New Year, the prices were RM12.98 (small), RM14.68 (medium), RM16.98 (large) and RM18.38 (extra large) per 4kg crate.

“The prices can further vary for future shipments due to logistical issues and uncertainties brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The price hike is also because there is a drop of 15% in the lokam harvest this year, which caused an average price increase of 15% to 20%,” he said, adding that L and XL-sized lokam production had dropped by 30%.

Wong said many farms in China did not produce lokam this year because of high risks and cost, especially with regard to logistics.

“Vessel space is precious now. There is a global shortage of containers and missed shipments mean further delays. As such, many businesses and supermarkets ordered lokam to Malaysia much earlier to counter any eventualities.

“Since the end of November, logistics cost has increased from US$2,200 (RM9,181) per container to US$5,900 (RM24,623), and we expect it to increase to US$6,500 (RM27,127) by mid-January,” said Wong.

He pointed out that the recent floods in Malaysia had also affected logistics at main seaports as containers could not be released on time.

“We are expecting another nine containers. Each has around 9,200 lokam and they should arrive before CNY for our six outlets on the island and mainland,” said Wong.

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