Singapore

Sellers worry about high cost price of CNY food

The cost price for festive food items, such as tang oh and conpoy, is expected to rise higher this Chinese New Year due to higher temperatures overseas and the weakening Singapore dollar.

Will retailers pass the cost on to consumers?

Vegetable seller Roger Khoo does not think an expected 50 per cent increase in tang oh price next week will scare off customers.

"This situation happens every year as we get closer to CNY. I don't think it is a big deal," said Mr Khoo, who runs a stall at Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre.

But others are not so sure customers will flock to pricier goods.

Fishmonger Poh Seng Hwa, who sells fish at the Lai Hock Sing Market, told The New Paper that with the bad weather causing the rise in cost of fishes this year, he is afraid to sell popular CNY items such as red grouper, threadfin, white pomfret and Chinese silver pomfret.

Using Chinese silver pomfret as an example, he said: "Now the cost price is about $100 a kg.

"It is easy to buy them, but it is very hard for me to sell them at that price.

"I will definitely make losses."

Similarly, Mr Mario Chua, who runs a shop in Victoria Street Wholesale Centre, said while food prices fluctuate all the time, he is being "more conservative this year".

"I have reduced the import across all goods by 20 per cent as the market is not very good," said Mr Chua, who is also chairman of Victoria Street Wholesale Centre Merchants' Association.

UOB economist Francis Tan told TNP that Singaporeans are still keen on spending a fair chunk of their CNY budget on food despite increased prices.

"Food typically takes up the majority of most consumer's day-to-day expenses so it is not surprising to see that food continues to be high up the pecking order during CNY celebrations," he said.

"To stretch their budget, consumers may look for alternatives through other purchasing channels such as buying online or from wholesalers to increase purchasing power.

"Consumers may also substitute pricier food items for less expensive ones."

tnp@sph.com.sg

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