Prices of vegetables and seafood are expected to rise again during the Chinese New Year period, said Kuala Lumpur Vegetable Wholesalers’ Association president Wong Keng Fatt.
Speaking to The Star, Wong said this is due to a drop in yield caused by the recent rainy weather. He revealed that prices of vegetables had started increasing recently by between 10% and 20% and could raise further if there are floods.
“The prices have increased this week, but it is not the real increase yet. It will be more expensive in the coming weeks if the downpours continue.”
“Also, if there are floods this month and next, then definitely the supply of vegetables will be affected, further driving up prices for the Chinese New Year,” Wong said.
Fishermen affected too
Meanwhile, seafood supplier and North Ocean Holdings director Candice Goh said that the abnormal weather patterns over the years have resulted in reduced catches for fishermen.
“Years back, around September to October would have been the peak of the seafood season, but now it’s still raining and strong winds have affected both raw catch activities and migration of the fish,” Goh said.
Besides, Goh also said that the higher post-pandemic consumer demand and the high cost of hiring foreign workers had contributed to the rising prices of seafood. Not to even mention the country’s relatively weak currency.
“Large-scale gatherings such as weddings, company dinners and anniversaries after the country began the transition to Covid-19 endemicity have pushed up demand for seafood, which is also likely to cost more for the Chinese New Year,” he said.
Middlemen, one of the main culprits
Apart from that, owner of Agro Bright Farm Kenn Wai shared that distributors were one of the main culprits for the price hike.
Kenn said that distributors are controlling the market price and overcharging customers.
“That’s why my farm and a few of my farmer friends don’t sell to the distributors, we sell directly to the end consumers and educate them on who the farmers growing their food are,” he said.
Commenting on this matter, Consumers’ Association of Penang education officer NV Subbarow urged the authorities to bring these unscrupulous sellers to court and give them a hefty fine if they overcharged customers.
He also suggested that the government’s enforcement team set up more complaint booths at markets. “No more middlemen; it’s time for government agencies to act,” he said.