GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Bad weather and strong demand have led to an increase in vegetable prices in Malaysia.
For the past two weeks, cauliflower prices have shot up by more than 100 per cent - from RM7 (S$2.30) to RM16 per kg - while cai xin, a Malaysian staple, has increased from RM3 to RM9 per kg.
Penang Island Vegetable Wholesalers Association chairman Tan Ban Ben said the price and supply of vegetables are largely determined by weather.
He said the price of spinach, depending on quality, is between RM3 and RM4, compared with RM2 per kg before the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the price of chilli is also higher now, with the local market selling it for RM10-RM15 per kg.
"The monsoon season has affected the production of vegetables, especially in places like Cameron Highlands.
"Vegetables always cost more during the rainy season or prolonged dry days.
"The rainy season also sees imported vegetables from Thailand costing more," he said.
Mr Tan said the vegetable supply will be adequate for upcoming festivities, adding that prices would be reduced once the rainy season is over.
A vegetable seller, who only wanted to be known as Ms Tan, said she had to sell her vegetables at a cheaper price to avoid losses.
"Last time, a handful of chillies only cost customers between RM1 and RM2, but now it can go up to RM5," she said at the Pulau Tikus market in Penang.
Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) president Mohideen Abdul Kadir said for the past two weeks, prices of some vegetables have increased by almost 200 per cent.
He said among the vegetables that saw a huge rise in prices were broccoli (150 per cent), beans (88 per cent), cabbage (50 per cent), red chilli (46 per cent) and green chilli (40 per cent).
He said the relevant agencies, such as the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority, must take immediate steps to bring down the prices.
"CAP has also received complaints from vegetable retailers that distributors and wholesalers have warned them that the prices of other vegetables might increase in the coming weeks, he said.