Malaysia’s food prices up nationwide for third month in a row, even as consumer prices fell 2.9pc y-o-y in May

Food prices have continued to go up year-on-year in all states in Malaysia for the third consecutive month. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Food prices have continued to go up year-on-year in all states in Malaysia for the third consecutive month. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — The overall prices of basic goods and services in Malaysia again fell by 2.9 per cent in May when compared to the same month last year, but food prices have continued to go up year-on-year in all states in Malaysia for the third consecutive month, the latest official statistics released today shows.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen Malaysia being placed under various phases of the movement control order (MCO) since March 18, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that measures consumer price changes — of a fixed basket of 12 categories of goods and services — had fallen for the first time this year in March by 0.2 per cent when compared against the same month in 2019.

The CPI again fell by 2.9 per cent in April, and has decreased by 2.9 per cent in May when compared against the same months last year.

For the overall decline in prices at -2.9 per cent in May 2020, this was driven by the fall of prices when compared to May 2019 across four categories, namely transport (-20.8 per cent), housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (-2.6 per cent), clothing and footwear (-1.1 per cent), and furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance (-0.2 per cent).

These four categories alone contribute to 45.7 per cent of the overall weight or the impact that price changes in such categories have on the overall CPI.

For food and non-alcoholic beverages which contribute 29.5 per cent of the CPI weight, prices went up by 1.2 per cent in May 2020 when compared to May 2019. Others that recorded increases were miscellaneous goods and services (2.8 per cent), communication (1.6 per cent), health (1.2 per cent), education (1.0 per cent), restaurants and hotels (0.9 per cent), recreation services and culture (0.7 per cent), and alcoholic beverages and tobacco (0.2 per cent).

Food prices up

In the DOSM figures released today for May, the increase in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index by 1.2 per cent was due to the increase in prices of meat (2.7 per cent), food products not elsewhere classified (2.6 per cent) and vegetables (2.4 per cent) in May 2020 when compared against May 2019.

Screengrab from Department of Statistics Malaysia's website
Screengrab from Department of Statistics Malaysia's website

The DOSM noted that price increases were recorded in most states in Malaysia in May for small onions (33.6 per cent), big onions (27.4 per cent) and garlic (26.8 per cent). The previous months of January to April this year had also seen price increases in most states for these three items.

As for the food away from home index, it increased by 1.6 per cent in May 2020 when compared against May 2019, driven by the price increases for nasi lemak, fried rice and rice with side dishes.

While the overall CPI decreased in all states in Malaysia by -1.9 to -3.8 per cent in May 2020 when compared against May 2019, every single state has recorded an increase in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index.

The four states with the highest increase in food and non-alcoholic beverages index also surpassed the national index of 1.2 per cent, namely Selangor and Putrajaya (2.1 per cent), Perak (1.8 per cent), Penang (1.7 per cent) and Johor (1.3 per cent).

As for the food away from home index, it increased by 1.6 per cent in May 2020 when compared against May 2019, driven by the price increases for nasi lemak, fried rice and rice with side dishes. — Picture by KE Ooi
As for the food away from home index, it increased by 1.6 per cent in May 2020 when compared against May 2019, driven by the price increases for nasi lemak, fried rice and rice with side dishes. — Picture by KE Ooi

What about food prices in previous months?

Based on previously published DOSM data, March and April similarly saw the food and non-alcoholic beverages increasing by 1.2 per cent when compared to the same months the previous year.

For both months, this was due to increase in prices for vegetables, food products not elsewhere classified, with oils and fats also contributing to the March figures and meat price increases contributing to the April figures.

As for food away from home index, the 1.5 per cent increase in April was due to the increase in prices for nasi lemak, fried rice and cooked beef, while the 1.6 per cent increase in March was due to the increase in prices for nasi lemak, fried rice and rice with side dishes.

Just like in May, every single state in Malaysia had recorded an increase in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index in March and April when compared to the same months last year.

The national index for food and non-alcoholic beverages was at 1.2 per cent for both March and April, with the states that surpassed the national index in March being Selangor and Putrajaya, Johor and Terengganu and for April being Selangor and Putrajaya, Perak, Terengganu, Johor and Penang.

This is in comparison to the first two months of the year, where not every state recorded an increase in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index.

Unlike other states for these two months, Kelantan in January and Melaka in February did not record an increase in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index.

The price increases in this category was also relatively lower for the first two months, with the national index for food and non-alcoholic beverages at 0.9 per cent in January and at 0.8 per cent in February.

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