Time to shop for festive goods

Weather woes in Taiwan and China have caused a 20 per cent fall in the supply of mandarin oranges.
Weather woes in Taiwan and China have caused a 20 per cent fall in the supply of mandarin oranges.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Queues have already started to form at bak kwa stores in Chinatown as people try to lay their hands on the barbecued meat early.
Queues have already started to form at bak kwa stores in Chinatown as people try to lay their hands on the barbecued meat early. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Prices of Chinese New Year goodies such as pineapple tarts, shrimp rolls and love letters are mostly the same as last year's.
Prices of Chinese New Year goodies such as pineapple tarts, shrimp rolls and love letters are mostly the same as last year's. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
A check at several wet markets, such as this market in Chinatown, showed that prices of fish, such as pomfret and red grouper, have increased by 30 to 50 per cent compared with about three weeks ago. Large prawns also now cost $35 per kg, up from $28
A check at several wet markets, such as this market in Chinatown, showed that prices of fish, such as pomfret and red grouper, have increased by 30 to 50 per cent compared with about three weeks ago. Large prawns also now cost $35 per kg, up from $28 per kg.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
When exposed to sunlight, the leaves of the Coleus plant turn yellow, giving rise to its Chinese name which translates to "floor full of gold".
When exposed to sunlight, the leaves of the Coleus plant turn yellow, giving rise to its Chinese name which translates to "floor full of gold".ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

It is less than two weeks to Chinese New Year but many shoppers have yet to pick up their festive essentials. Retailers attribute this to the proximity of Chinese New Year, on Jan 28, to Christmas in December. The Sunday Times looks at what shoppers can expect as they head out to buy their food and plants to usher in the Year of the Rooster.

Oranges to cost more as supply drops


Weather woes in Taiwan and China have caused a 20 per cent fall in the supply of mandarin oranges. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Weather woes are hitting fruit prices. Be prepared to pay up to 15 per cent more for mandarin oranges this Chinese New Year.

Boxes of the swatow, lukan, ponkan and kinno varieties, weighing between 2kg and 8kg a box, cost between $10 and $30 each at FairPrice. Last Chinese New Year, they cost between $8.70 and $26.

Cold Storage had earlier said that Typhoon Megi, which hit Taiwan last September, and frost in China this month had caused a 20 per cent drop in supply of the fruit.

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Barbecued meat draws early birds


Queues have already started to form at bak kwa stores in Chinatown as people try to lay their hands on the barbecued meat early. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Queues have already begun to form at popular bak kwa stores in Chinatown. The good news is that waiting times are not stretching over an hour. However, retailers warned that the wait times, along with prices, are set to rise soon.

A check by The Sunday Times over the past three days found that customers queued between 15 and 30 minutes. Those lining up said they were buying the barbecued pork slices early to beat the crowd.

Human resource manager Lois Teo made her annual trek to Lim Chee Guan's New Bridge Road outlet on Thursday to buy the snack for friends and family. "Now is the best time to buy because the queues are short and the quality is better," said the 42-year-old.

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Goodies staying at a good price


Prices of Chinese New Year goodies such as pineapple tarts, shrimp rolls and love letters are mostly the same as last year's. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

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.

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Weather woes push up prices


A check at several wet markets, such as this market in Chinatown, showed that prices of fish, such as pomfret and red grouper, have increased by 30 to 50 per cent compared with about three weeks ago. Large prawns also now cost $35 per kg, up from $28 per kg. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Home cooks shopping for fresh produce at wet markets for their reunion dinners will find that goods have become pricier over the last few weeks.

Fresh fish prices, in particular, are significantly higher due to increased demand and stormy weather in Indonesia, which has kept supply low since last week.

Mr Lee Boon Cheow, president of the Singapore Fish Merchants' General Association, said that fewer fishermen go out to ply their trade in bad weather. He warned that prices may remain high even after the Chinese New Year festivities.

"Indonesia is a big supplier of fish used in Chinese New Year dishes such as pomfret, threadfin and grouper.

"But we expect that with the rains, every week is going to be like that," he said.

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What's available this time

LOCAL TWIST ON FAVOURITE SNACKS


When exposed to sunlight, the leaves of the Coleus plant turn yellow, giving rise to its Chinese name which translates to "floor full of gold". ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Bakeries here have added a local twist to some popular Chinese New Year snacks this year.

For example, Bakerzin has introduced fish floss pineapple tarts and lemongrass pineapple tarts.

The Pine Garden has seven new products this year, including salted egg shrimp cookies, cheese tapioca melts and osmanthus apricot honey butter cake.

Meanwhile, Kele has come up with jade pineapple balls which are pandan-flavoured with a hint of coconut.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 15, 2017, with the headline 'Time to shop for festive goods'. Print Edition | Subscribe