Food items to cost a bit more

Making their selection: People getting their necessities at the market in Kuala Terengganu to break their fast on the first day of Ramadan. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: There is a stable supply of essential food items for the fasting month of Ramadan, but prices have slightly increased due to high demand, say traders.

Khairul Anwar Ab Majid, who sells beef at the TTDI market, said that his supply of local and imported beef is stable, but the prices have generally gone up by 15% to 35% since last month.

“Before the fasting month of Ramadan, the beef prices increased from RM1 to RM1.50 every week, depending on the part of the meat.

“Beef tenderloin is expensive and in high demand during Ramadan, at RM52 per kg.

“The imported beef prices increased by 15% to 20% and local beef prices by 30% to 35%,” he said when contacted.

He said that although Muslims are excited about celebrating Hari Raya again, the inflation and higher food prices have dampened celebrations, and consumers are more cautious.

“Regular customers who come to my stall say their spending on beef has gone up and that the amount of beef that used to cost RM200 to RM300 for a week has now risen to RM350 and more.

“Many customers have cut down on their expenditure, while the prices of meat, vegetables and other food items in the same market have risen.

“My net profit is also 30% lower now than before the pandemic. There was less shopping at the market when people started travelling.

“But with Ramadan now, the market hopes to regain 80% of its customers,” he said.

Kedah Fishing Boat Owners Association deputy president Abdul Khadzib Bakar said the demand for fish during Ramadan is expected to increase, and the prices have risen by 20% to 30%.

“Ikan cencaru (torpedo scad), prawns and squid prices are increasing, and the supply is low,” he said.

He said price increases are common during Ramadan as demand increases.

He also said the limited number of fishing boats going out to sea has resulted in lower catches.

“Previously, we would return with two to three baskets of prawns and squid; now, we might even return empty-handed or just with a basketful of catch,” he added.

A mutton seller, who wished to be known only as Abdul A, said there is enough mutton stock, but lamb supply is low, and the prices have increased because of the unstable currency exchange.

“The wholesale price for mutton rose by 20%, while lamb has risen by 40%,” he added.

He said he has increased orders for imported mutton because demand is high during Ramadan.

“Yes, there will be (increase in demand), but the government fixes our market price, so the seller has to bear the cost,” he said.

When contacted, hypermarket chain Mydin’s managing director, Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, said the supply of chicken, mutton and beef is sufficient.

“The imported beef and mutton prices have increased slightly, and local beef prices are higher than those imported,” he added.

Federation of Vegetable Farmers Associations president Lim Ser Kwee said despite the earlier rainy season, vegetable production has recovered.

“Previously, vegetable production from farms in Cameron Highlands and southern Johor fell due to continuous rainy days. There is a recovery in vegetable production now, so prices have dropped by 20%.”Since there is a sufficient supply, he does not anticipate a rise in vegetable prices during the fasting month.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president Datin Christina Toh said the city centre hotel Ramadan buffet prices have risen by 15% due to many factors, such as electricity bills, workers’ wages and high material prices.

MAH Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said that while the prices of Ramadan buffets offered by Johor hotels have not increased, the number of food options has reduced.

“The market is competitive, and raising the price may result in losing customers, so you can only reduce food options.”

With many businesses recovering from the outbreak, the customer base will likely decrease this Ramadan.

“Luckily, Johor Baru hotels are seeing Singaporean tourists over the weekend, and occupancy rates are fairly high.”

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