GEORGE TOWN, Dec 1 — The increase in vegetable prices was temporary and the fluctuations were due to several factors, according to the Penang branch of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP).
Penang KPDNHEP director Mohd Ridzuan Ab Ghapar said the earlier price hikes were due to factors such as the flooding in Cameron Highlands and increase in prices of fertilisers.
However, he said some prices have stabilised although there were fluctuations for others.
“The prices of tomatoes have dropped by 43 per cent, broccoli too have dropped by 27.2 per cent and limes have dropped by 31.5 per cent,” he said in a press conference after checking on the prices of vegetables at the Bayan Baru Market here.
He said based on observations made at the end of November, there were also 100 per cent price increases for some vegetables such as green beans.
“There are fluctuations in prices of vegetables and suppliers gave the excuse that this was due to the weather and increase in costs of fertilisers,” he said.
He said the prices of vegetables in hypermarkets and supermarkets could be cheaper too compared to those in the markets as hypermarkets and supermarkets order their supplies in bulk and could get it at a lower cost price.
“The supermarkets get their supplies in bulk so it is possible for them to sell it at a lower price as their cost price is lower compared to the small traders in the markets that have limited resources and could not order their supplies in bulk like the supermarkets,” he said.
He said the prices of vegetables will continue to fluctuate due to various factors but the ministry will still continue to monitor the situation.
The Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Ministry’s enforcement section has also conducted investigations under Ops Pasar to check on the entire vegetable supply chain from the importers to the wholesalers to the traders in Penang to get to the root cause for the price increase, he said.
He did not dismiss the possibility that the price increase could be due to the middleman but stressed that they will need to investigate this in detail.
“We need to look at the entire supply chain to determine the cause of price increase so we will look at the suppliers, the wholesalers, the middle men and the traders,” he said.
Mohd Ridzuan said their enforcement team has conducted over 100 checks on businesses premises under Ops Pasar and issued 20 Goods Information Verification Notices (NPMB) and 10 Written Notices.
“Traders who were issued notices were given between two to five days from the date they received the notice to present their explanation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the KPDNHEP has also launched an Ops Menu on November 6 and will continue to conduct operations until December 31 to check on price manipulation or unreasonable pricing by restaurants and eateries.
“Our continuous checks under Ops Menu have led to the issuance of two RM500 fines out of 372 restaurants and eateries we checked,” he said.
As for the recent complaint over the RM100 squids at Hameediyah Restaurant, Mohd Ridzuan said investigations into the case have concluded and been handed to the ministry in Putrajaya for further action.
As for the complaint on an RM18 salted fish kailan dish at a restaurant here, he said the restaurant was issued NPMB and they are required to submit their explanations by today.