Abalone prices down in Singapore, but vegetable and fish prices soar ahead of CNY

Mr Cyrus Yap, from Sin Ocean, said the price dip for abalone was also due to an oversupply in abalone factories in China.
Mr Cyrus Yap, from Sin Ocean, said the price dip for abalone was also due to an oversupply in abalone factories in China.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Abalone prices have dropped by 5 per cent to 30 per cent during this Chinese New Year period, said wholesalers.

They told The Sunday Times this was due to Singaporeans' low spending power during the coronavirus pandemic as well as an oversupply of stock in China.

For instance, the price of a 180g can of Yoshihama abalone from Japan fell from last year's price of $28 to $20 last week. And the price of a 180g of Crown Brand abalone from China dropped from last year's tag of $21 to $13 last week.

Mr Andrew Goh, 45, managing director of De Cheng Xin Xing Trading, a provision goods and dried seafood wholesaler at Victoria Wholesale Centre, said prices of abalone had dropped 5 to 20 per cent from last year to the week before Chinese New Year.

He said: "Previously, customers bought abalone that were $20 to $30 a can. Due to Covid-19, I've seen more people buying the cheaper abalone that costs $10 or less."

Mr Cyrus Yap, an employee at seafood wholesaler Sin Ocean, also at Victoria Wholesale Centre, said: "Due to Covid-19, many people have lost their jobs or had pay cuts. Not many would want to indulge in abalone."

He said the price dip is also due to an oversupply in abalone factories in China, which could not export goods due to shipping complications caused by the pandemic.

A FairPrice spokesman said the prices of canned abalone have remained stable, while a Sheng Siong spokesman said the price of its house brand canned abalone has remained unchanged from last year.

But with Chinese New Year just days away, prices of other food items have soared due to high demand and weather conditions.

Mr Hong Wei En, chairman of the Singapore Fish Merchants' General Association, said the price of Chinese pomfret increased from $30 per kg last month to $45 last week while the price of red grouper rose from $20 per kg last month to $30 last week.

Singapore Fruits & Vegetables Importers & Exporters Association vice-secretary Jerry Tan said the prices of tomatoes, round cabbage and tang oh had increased by 50, 40 and 30 per cent respectively from last month.

He said: "Tang oh seems to be a must-have item for reunion (dinner) steamboat. But although supplies have increased, the price hasn't come down."

He said the cold temperatures in the Cameron Highlands had caused the flowers of tomatoes to wilt, leading to fewer fruits available, while cold spells in China had led to bad harvests of round cabbage.

At Sheng Siong, vegetable prices have gone up by 10 to 15 per cent due to bad weather and higher freight costs, its spokesman said.

A FairPrice spokesman said prices of vegetables like tang oh, wong bok and spinach have increased by 5 to 10 per cent on average, due to inclement weather conditions in Malaysia and China.

Supermarket chains said that the recent delays at the Causeway, because of mandatory Covid-19 antigen rapid tests for cargo drivers entering Singapore, have not caused prices to jump heavily.

A spokesman for Dairy Farm, which owns Cold Storage and Giant, said: "We have not experienced any significant supply delays amid the recent developments in Malaysia, due to our diversified supplier strategy and ongoing planning to mitigate any anticipated challenges and ensure that products remain well-stocked."

Additional reporting by Yeo Shu Hui