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froth In a over 'ice kopi-beer'

Have you heard of ice kopi-beer?

Mr Adrian Huang has and he is not pleased.

He ordered a bottle each of Heineken beer, Tiger beer and Guinness stout.

But when he paid for them at a Kopitiam outlet in Serangoon North Avenue 3, he was shocked to find that he had been charged for an additional "ice kopi" for each bottle.

The "ice kopi" tagged to each bottle of Tiger or Heineken beer cost $1.30, while each bottle of Guinness stout included an "ice kopi" that cost $1.40.

Mystified as he did not order ice kopi, he asked the counter staff about it.

He was told that each additional mystery beverage was included to reflect the operator's beer price hike because the cash register was not updated yet.

This was confirmed by a Kopitiam spokesman.

This unusual price hike comes a week after a 25 per cent hike in alcohol tax was announced in the Budget last Friday.

On Monday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said that "businesses should not take advantage of the increase in liquor duties to raise prices unduly at the expense of consumers".

It added that the price of a typical can of beer (323 ml) should increase by about 20 cents, while a typical bottle of beer (663ml) should go up by only about 40 cents at coffee shops.

Mr Huang is unhappy with the price increase for a bottle of Heineken beer, which went up from $6.50 to $7.80 at the Kopitiam outlet .

"$1.30 increase for a bottle? That's blatant profiteering," he told The New Paper on Wednesday.

But the Kopitiam spokesman attributed the hike to its suppliers who had "immediately increased their prices".

UPDATED

She added their IT staff have since uploaded the new prices into the system for all outlets.

The spokesman did not reveal how much Kopitiam's suppliers had increased their prices by.

Beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) told The New Paper it is the prerogative of the individual retailers to set the pricing.

Said an APB spokesman: "We have increased the price of Tiger beer and Heineken beer in tandem with the increase in duty announced by the Minister of Finance last Friday."

APB, however, did not reveal how much the increment is.

The spokesman said: "The retailers' final price to consumers would take into consideration their respective operational costs."

Other drink stall owners also said the increase was due to hikes by suppliers.

Mr Yeo Rim Koon, 72, who runs a drinks stall at Bukit Timah Food Centre, said a bottle of Heineken now costs 50 cents more from his supplier, while Baron's and Anchor have increased by 70 cents and $1, respectively.

"I increased my prices based on how much the suppliers increased theirs. Not a single cent more," he said in Mandarin.

A bottle of Heineken now costs $7 at his stall.

"I raised prices only because I had no choice. I have to make a living, too. It's not like we're out to profit from this tax hike."

A drink stall owner in Ang Mo Kio, who wanted to be known only as Mr Toh, said his business has been affected since the alcohol tax was increased.

"Even my regular customers are buying less beer now because of the higher prices," said Mr Toh, who raised the price of each bottle of Carlsberg by 50 cents .

A customer, who wanted to be known only as Mr Yeo, said: I think it is ridiculous that alcohol prices have gone up by so much.

"All I want to do at the end of a hard day of work is to relax and drink some beer. Now I can't even do that as often."

No rush to increase alcohol price

While the Kopitiam chain has raised prices, Good Beer Company's co-owner Daniel Goh, 39, is in no rush to increase the price of his craft beer.

As stated on his stall's Facebook page, he is keeping the prices of his beer constant - for now.

He said: "We're keeping prices constant for now, due to some of our suppliers being committed to not raising prices. To raise prices when our suppliers have not is unethical."

Likewise, Octopus Group's group executive director Elaine Teh, 44, is keeping prices of the alcohol distributed constant.

She said: "It is plain business ethics.

"I am definitely not raising prices until my old stock runs out, and that will take quite a long time since I have a few million bottles of alcohol stored in the warehouse.

"To raise prices for old stock is just not right."