CNY Survival Guide 2014: Fish maw and mushrooms more expensive this year

Lovers of pineapple tarts, kueh bangkit and other Chinese New Year goodies, you can rejoice this year.

Prices have remained largely stable for these products in spite of higher raw material cost.

However, customers may choose to cut back in the dried goods section. Costs have risen for dried fish maw and mushrooms, according to 10 retailers The Straits Times spoke to.

The Sheng Siong Supermarket chain and Le Cafe Confectionery & Pastry in Middle Road said ingredients such as butter and sugar are getting more expensive. Labour costs are also rising.

A spokesman for Sheng Siong said they are paying 5 to 10 per cent more to get their house-brand cookies made in Malaysia.

However, he added that the chain has absorbed the material cost and kept the sales prices for pineapple tarts ($4.20 for 300g) and kueh bangkit ($5.90 for 250g).

Stores such as Chang Bai Shan Medical Hall in New Bridge Road and Kai Hock Provisions at Tiong Bahru Market say that they are charging customers more for dried-eel fish maw this year.

Based on figures provided by three retailers, a pack of dried-eel fish maw now costs $60 per 100g, up from last year's $40.

There are also price increases in cheaper varieties like threadfin.

Wholesale shops such as Sar Mooi Long at Victoria Wholesale Centre explained that there was less fish maw produced here. As a result,they had to import from Indonesia, which meant extra costs.

Customers have to pay more for dried mushrooms, too. Wholesalers said there is less supply from China, which is a main source of the product.

Mr Steven Teo, a shop-keeper at De Cheng Xin Xing Trading at Victoria Wholesale Centre, said mushroom crops were affected by heavy floods last year.

Still, customers can heave a sigh of relief as prices of most other goods remain the same as last year's.

These include canned abalone, scallops, sea cucumbers and Chinese sausages. The prices for bak kwa (barbecued pork) are also similar to last year, although they will escalate as Chinese New Year approaches.

byseow@sph.com.sg

vthor@sph.com.sg