PETALING JAYA - Chinese New Year may be an expensive affair this year as prices of some fresh seafood items have gone up by at least 30 per cent.
The prices for some must-have items for the reunion dinner such as the white pomfret and white prawns have increased and could see further hikes as the festive season draws near.
Kuala Lumpur Hoi Seong (Seafood) Association president Toh Sung Chuan said the white pomfret, which was usually sold between RM80 and RM90 per kilo, was now close to RM120 (S$38.40) per kilo.
"Nearing Chinese New Year, the price can even go up to RM150 per kilo.
"The usual price for white prawns is between RM60 and RM70 per kilo, but now, the price is RM90 per kilo," he said.
Toh said there was a high demand for white pomfret as many restaurants serve this as a main item during Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 28.
Other types of fresh fish such as ikan kembung (Indian mackerel), black pomfret and ikan tenggiri (Spanish mackerel) have also increased in price.
Black pomfret, which usually retails at RM26 per kilo, is now RM32 per kilo while ikan kembung is RM18 per kilo and ikan tenggiri has reached RM30 per kilo.
He said that apart from the demand for Chinese New Year, the bad weather due to the monsoon season had also caused a shortfall in supply.
"But I believe the prices will be back to normal after Chinese New Year," he said.
Fisheries Development Authority chairman Datuk Seri Dr Irmohizam Ibrahim said 145 tonnes of frozen fish buffer stock have been made available to help with the shortage of fish in the market.
As for vegetables, the Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers Association president Tan So Tiok said the prices of most vegetables have not gone up much except for highland cabbage, where the farm price is about RM4 per kilo.
"At one time, the price of cabbage used to be 50 sen per kilo due to excess in supply."
Cameron Highlands Vegetable Growers Association secretary-general Chay Ee Mong said currently there was no critical shortage of vegetables except for cabbages because not much was being imported.
Vegetable importer Datuk Seri Teh Meng Huat said the price of cabbage had constantly been high over the past few years.
"The reason cabbages are expensive is because it is a controlled item which needs an import permit.
"However, I believe the wholesale price for cabbage this entire month will not be more than RM60 for a bag of 20 kilos," he said.
"I believe the prices for imported vegetables will be stable until the end of this month."
The Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry will hold a press conference on the Festive Season Price Control Scheme next Wednesday.