Keeping a close watch on food prices

Azlan Othman

The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) and Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) issued a joint statement in referring to information spread on the price hike of several food commodities on social and mass media, especially relating to poultry shortage leading to an increase in the price of the commodity.

The Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (JPES), under the MOFE, said the agency is keeping a close watch on food prices to ensure retailers follow ethical business practices.

The JPES also carried out price scrutiny on food commodies over the past four months and found that in general, the price hikes are due to an increase in chicken feed, absence of alternative imported commodity, climate change, rise in domestic demand due to travel restrictions and rise in logistics and transportation costs regionally and globally.

The monitoring report has been made based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from January to December and data obtained from retailers.

Fresh whole chicken has shown a price hike of six per cent on average from BND4.28 per kilogramme in September to BND4.52 per kilogramme this month. Meanwhile chicken wings have also increased by three per cent from BND7.78 per kilogramme, to BND8.03 per kilogramme and chicken eggs by six per cent from BND4.58 per tray to BND4.87 per tray.

Buffaloe, cow and fresh goat meat have also increased due to no supply of frozen buffalo meat from India, and frozen cow and goat meat from Australia, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On average, the cost of fresh cow meat for this month is around BND16.14 per kilogramme compared to BND15.20 per kilogramme in September.

Goats in an enclosure. PHOTO: MPRT

The price of frozen cow meat has risen to BND13.50 per kilogramme this month compared to BND12.40 per kilogramme early this year.

Several agricultural products have also seen price hikes over the past four months, such as red onion from BND2.34 per kilogramme to BND6.24 per kilogramme; ginger from BND3.88 per kilogramme to BND4.24 per kilogramme and chilli from BND9.15 per kilogramme to BND10 per kilogramme, due to harvesting issues at exporting countries due to turbulent weather conditions, and a rise in transportation costs regionally and globally following travel restrictions.

JPES is keeping a close watch on food prices to ensure that retailers practise ethical business practices.

The MPRT, through the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood also shared that the production of poultry this year has recorded the highest increase by local breeders at 26,000 metric tonnes as noted in a statement issued on November 28. The MPRT and local poultry farming will continue to take steps to increase poultry supply to meet domestic demand by increasing chicken coops by three poultry farms, which will start additional production early next year.

To meet the meat demand locally, the ministry continues to facilitate the importation of cows and goats from overseas to give an alternative to the poultry demand.

Recently a local beef supplier brought in 1,250 goats from Indonesia. Another 1,200 goats will come in next month. Some 6,743 cows have been brought in from Australia with 1,329 more cows arriving by the end of this year.

To meet the current demand, through local beef suppliers, the frequency of importation of live cows using foreign commercial vehicles through land post has also increased from three times a week to five times a week.