Consumers looking forward to snacking on Chinese New Year goodies such as pineapple tarts, shrimp rolls and love letters will be relieved to know that most prices will remain the same as last year.
Although costs of raw materials and labour have increased, some retailers are absorbing the hike or have managed to buy butter and sugar in bulk at lower prices.
At The Pine Garden, a container of 30 pineapple tarts costs $27, the same as last year. "We constantly try to keep our prices competitive even though costs and operating costs have increased by 10 to 15 per cent," said Pine Garden.
Bakerzin has kept prices comparable to last year's by locking in the cost of raw materials with its suppliers more than half a year ago, said its spokesman. A tin of 18 pineapple tarts costs $22.80 this year, or about $1.30 each, against $29.80 for 21 pieces last year, or about $1.40 each.
Supermarket chains Sheng Siong, Cold Storage and FairPrice have also maintained the prices of their Chinese New Year snacks.
But high costs forced at least one bakery to raise prices by 8 to 10 per cent. At Kele, which has an outlet in Chinatown, a tin of pineapple tarts costs $25.80, up from $23.80 last year, and its shrimp rolls and love letters are selling at $20.80 a tin, up from $18.80 and $19.80, respectively.
Kele said the cost of butter has risen by 50 to 60 per cent since the last Chinese New Year, with suppliers attributing it to rising demand for the dairy product. The firm is also paying its part-time promoters and packers $10 an hour, up from $8 to $9 last
Confectioners noted that demand for these goodies seems to be slower this year, and attributed it to a slowing economy, the
weak Malaysian ringgit and the proximity of the season to Christmas.
Corporate orders at Kele are down by more than half.
Sales at Pine Garden have fallen by about 15 to 20 per cent.
It said consumers were likely fatigued from the Christmas and New Year celebrations, and cautious about spending amid a slowing economy.
The weaker Malaysian currency may also have enticed some consumers to get their goodies from across the Causeway instead, Pine Garden added.