Singapore

Vegetable prices here rise due to wet weather in M'sia

Retailers cite other factors such as shipping congestion, and some try to absorb cost increases

The year-end monsoon season in Malaysia has resulted in more expensive vegetables here, with some roughly doubling in price recently.

Local vegetable sellers said the price hike is not unexpected, adding that leafy greens are easily damaged by torrential rain.

The New Paper had reported yesterday that retail prices of some vegetables in Malaysia had also doubled over the past two weeks.

A spokesman for FairPrice supermarket said some vegetables such as cucumber and bittergourd are 5 per cent to 15 per cent more expensive, while the prices of other vegetables imported from Malaysia have generally remained stable.

She said FairPrice would continue to monitor the situation closely, adding that the supermarket chain had absorbed the rise in cost last month before progressively adjusting prices from early this month.

"While Malaysia is an important source for vegetables, we also source vegetables from Thailand, Indonesia, China and from local farms as well," she said.

DFI Retail Group, which runs supermarket chains Cold Storage and Giant, said: "We have seen cost price increases on a number of our produce items due to the recent unfavourable weather, exacerbated by congestion at the port, which has impacted supply."

Malaysia is the largest supplier of vegetables here, accounting for 42 per cent of Singapore's fresh and chilled vegetables supply last year.

According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department, the country has been experiencing heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, with the monsoon weather expected to continue this month.

There could be floods in some states, such as Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis, it added.

Malaysia's monsoon season can stretch from May to September and from November to March.

PRICE OF SPINACH

Mr Alex Qiu, who runs a vegetable stall at Block 475 Tampines Street 44, said the price of spinach is now hovering around $3.50 to $4 a kilogram, double the $1.80 to $2 just a week ago.

"When it is constantly raining, these vegetables tend to wilt and rot easily. This price increase usually happens during the wet seasons," said Mr Qiu.

Despite wholesale prices of vegetables such as xiao bai cai and chye sim having gone up, Mr Timothy Tang, 31, owner of a stall at the Tampines market, said he had absorbed the additional cost. The retail price of these greens from Malaysia remains at 60 cents a packet or $1.50 for three packets, while those from Hong Kong are sold at three packets for $4.

Mr Jerry Tan, vice-secretary of the Singapore Fruits and Vegetables Importers and Exporters Association, said the price fluctuations were not due to the monsoon season alone.

Farmers choose which crops to grow based on the profit they expect to make, and this could lead to supply disruptions for certain vegetables.

"It is like a gamble for them. They hope their next crop can fetch a good price. Sometimes they hit the jackpot, but they also lose at times," Mr Tan said.

"Some other farmers will prepare themselves for the monsoon and grow more in order to meet the committed quantity."

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