By RACHAEL KAM
PETALING JAYA: Shopkeepers in the country have started selling food items synonymous with the Chinese New Year early – to help Malaysians avoid an expected price hike brought about by the appreciating Chinese currency, the yuan.
However, retailers of locally produced food items for the Lunar New Year said the prices of these items will remain the same.
Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants’ Association president Lean Hing Chuan said many of the products were Chinese New Year speciality food items and prices would go up by up to 20% when new consignments arrive in the country next month.
Cheap for now: China products, particularly Chinese New Year speciality food items, are expected to increase by 20% next month.
Chinese New Year falls on Feb 3.
Mega Grade Sdn Bhd main office manager Raymond Low said the company’s two mini markets were still selling at the “old price” and most were at a promotional price.
“We are selling Chinese mushrooms at RM50 per kilogramme now. However, the price will be increased to RM70 next month when new stocks arrive,” he said.
Low said new pricing for the goods would depend on how much the suppliers raised the price, but local preserved meat should retail at old prices.
Lean said the products affected by the price increase included abalone, mushrooms, dried scallops, preserved meat and seafood as well as mandarin oranges.
“Traders have no choice but to increase their prices to cope with the escalating import cost,” he said.
Lean said traders were expecting consumers to buy less of the imported items as a result of the price hike.
He said the association members had placed smaller orders with their foreign suppliers as they anticipated lower demand.
Citing mandarin oranges as an example, he said these would cost from RM12 per box compared with RM7 early this year.
He said the price of Chinese dried mushroom would increase from the current RM24 per kilo to RM32, while the higher quality variety would be sold for RM70 per kilo, up RM10.
Some of the speciality items for the Lunar New Year were also imported from other countries and costs in these countries had also increased.
“Generally, for a can of abalone imported from Mexico, the price will increase about RM30 to RM230. A can of abalone from South Africa will increase from RM120 to RM140.
“The price of abalone imported from Australia will increase from the current RM70 to RM90 next month,” he said.
Lean said a kilo of dried scallops was expected to cost RM200, up RM20, while the price of bigger ones would increase to RM320 from the current RM300.
He advised consumers to buy the food items early before the arrival of the new batch to save cost.