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No complaints doesn't mean no price hikes, say food industry players

They say they have been struggling to manage the increase in food prices even with the price controls on some goods.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
A restaurant worker prepares food for customers at an earty in Kampung Felda Sendayan in Bandar Sri Sendayan, Negeri Sembilan.
A restaurant worker prepares food for customers at an earty in Kampung Felda Sendayan in Bandar Sri Sendayan, Negeri Sembilan.

Industry players in the food and beverages field say prices have increased over the past six months despite price controls on some goods, following the government's statement that no complaints were received on the issue throughout the recent festive seasons. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, restaurant owner Mohd Izham Fahmi Yaakob said that in some instances, the price of chicken had risen to RM10.50 per kg. 

"The average price of vegetables has definitely gone up," he added. 

Izham, who runs a restaurant in Puncak Alam, Selangor, said operations had been affected by the increase in prices. 

"We use up to 15kg of cooking oil every day," he said. 

"How are we supposed to answer our customers when we have to charge them more as well?" 

Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Salahuddin Ayub recently said his ministry had not received any complaints of price increases or lack of supply of goods during the previous three festive seasons.

"There is no truth to claims of a sudden increase for basic goods," he said in the Dewan Rakyat. 

"We control 43 types of goods and 11 prices, and not a single one has increased." 

But Maazan Mahamat Ajmi, who sells cendol in Shah Alam, Selangor, said he had been forced to raise his prices in order to handle the increase in cost of raw goods. 

"When we first started our business, one litre of santan was only RM7.68. Now, it's RM10.99," he said. 

"We used to sell a medium bowl of cendol for RM3. Now, to maintain our prices, we sell small bowls for RM3 and medium bowls for RM4 to RM5." 

He said the same went for other ingredients like brown sugar, gula Melaka, flour, corn and beans. 

"No complaints doesn't mean that prices have not gone up," he said. 

Data from the consumer price index showed that inflation in the first quarter of 2023 increased by 3.6% to 129.7 points compared to 125.2 during the previous quarter.

A report by the statistics department meanwhile revealed that 201 or 87.4% of 230 food items recorded an increase in price in March 2023 compared to 2022. 

Items included meat, milk and eggs, as well as bread and cereals. 

During the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration last year, the price of locally produced meat was set at RM39 per kg. This year, it rose to RM41 per kg. 

Mazlina Kamarudin, the managing director of a local chicken breeding company, said Salahuddin's statement would make sense taking into account the ceiling price set for chicken and the subsidies given by the government.

"Selling chicken at RM9.40 is not enough to cover the costs, but we are restricted by price controls, so of course prices will not increase," Mazlina, of Ayam Bismi, said. 

"The government promised that subsidies would be given until June. But after June, once the subsidies have been taken away, prices might go up."