I would like to respond to a piece on ‘Hike in beef prices hurting restaurants in recovery’in the Bulletin on December 2.
The writer was right in highlighting the sharp increase in beef prices in the country. However, I believe he or she was merely scratching the surface of the issue.
The prices of chicken, which is the choice of protein source among locals, have also spiked. It is especially problematic for low-income earners.
In the past, when the borders were open, these individuals counted on cross-border grocery shopping to keep their monthly expenses low and manageable.
Now, due to the COVID-19 preventive measures, they have no choice but to weather the storm of increasing food prices.
What worries me is that the ever popular cheap meal option of nasi katok may not be quite as affordable for long, if the authorities don’t implement strategies to keep the meat prices from increasing on a regular basis.
Soon, the vendors would have no choice but to either increase the price or reduce the portion size.
Either is unimaginable, especially for those who depend on affordable ready-made meals for sustenance.
And these individuals are often in the lower socio-economic strata; they are susceptible to mild price hikes, let alone a 30-40 per cent increase.
I would like to see authorities take into consideration the low-income earners in the country and come up with a way to put a stop to the ever-increasing meat prices.
In reference to the opinion letter dated December 2 by ZHD on ‘Hike in beef prices hurting restaurants in recovery’, it is a tragedy to businesses in the meat-based industries to have to deal with 30-40 per cent increase in beef prices.
I am sure that if no appropriate action is taken to put a lid on these price hikes, some of the players, especially those in the micro enterprises, would cease operations and perish altogether.
Yet, it is surprising that beef prices in our neighbouring countries do not show similar spikes. As a matter of fact, the prices remain stable.
Perhaps the authorities could mitigate these price increases by allowing the importation of frozen beef from other countries, as the meat prices are more reasonable to all.
I hope a workable measure will be implemented soon to assist the beef-based micro, small and medium enterprises, so the food industry can continue to flourish.