Hawkers left with ‘no choice’ but to review prices

GEORGE TOWN: The increase in the price of raw ingredients during the festive season has put hawkers in a fix as they now have to temporarily raise the price of their dishes.

Hawker Muhammad Syafiq Mohd Shariff, 33, who runs a stall selling pasembur, mee goreng and mee rebus, said he had to paste the new prices over the original price display at his stall three days ago to inform his customers of the price change.

“It is normal for prices to go up during the festive season and we know during every Chinese New Year things will be more expensive.

“This time, however, the price increase is more compared to during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We buy perishable items so we cannot stock up and have to buy them daily.

“This means that we cannot save cost in any way compared to those who use preserved goods,” he said when met at his stall at the Batu Lanchang food court yesterday.

Muhammad Syafiq said the prices of raw ingredients like squid, eggs, flour, cooking oil, tauhu (bean curd) and certain vegetables have gone up.

“We have no choice but to use bottled cooking oil as they ration the packet oil.

“When I order or ask for 20 packets, I only get 10, so I have to resort to buying bottled cooking oil which is more expensive.

“I buy grade D eggs, which used to cost around RM9 per tray, but now it is RM13.50.

“This makes it difficult for me as I use quite a lot of eggs for my dishes,” he said.

Muhammad Syafiq said he usually charges RM4.50 without egg, RM5 with egg and RM5.50 with a duck egg for mee goreng and mee rebus.

“Now I have increased it to RM5, RM6 and RM6.50 respectively.

“This is however temporary as I know the prices will go down and I can revert to my original prices.

“I expect the costs of raw materials to go down after Chinese New Year, and I will then revert to my earlier pricing.

“It is good that customers understand that the cost of ingredients have gone up and do not complain about the price hike.

“I appreciate the support as business has been good,” he said.

Saw Jip Seng, 60, who sells local delights like chee cheong fun, chai kuih, otak-otak and yam cakes, said he only raised prices for his items by a few sen as business has been slow.

“I have competition as there are other stalls selling the same items so I can only raise my prices by 10 sen or so despite the higher price of raw ingredients.

“I changed my pricing only on Monday,” he said, lamenting that the cost of flour, sweet sauce, fish paste and oil had gone up.

“If we raise our prices, customers might not buy from us, so we are managing despite the increase of raw materials.

“We hope the price of raw materials go down once the festive season is over and things go back to normal,” he said.

Penang Chowrasta Bazaar Traders Association chairman Mohamed Nasir Mohideen said the price of raw ingredients did not go up during the festive season only but earlier.

“The reason behind the price increase is because there is a supply chain in place before these raw items reach the market traders.

“From the farmer, it goes to the wholesaler, then to a retailer before the items reach the market traders.

“The prices of these items go higher each stage before they reach us and finally sold to the customers.

“The prices go up and we cannot seem to find a solution to deal with it because there are so many people’s rice bowls involved.

“We hope the government can encourage more people to take up farming as this would create competition.

“Right now there is demand for raw ingredients and although the suppliers do not charge as much, there are several parties involved in the supply chain.

“The only way to reduce the price is if we can get more people to produce the raw ingredients,” he said.

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