Malaysia food outlet operators to maintain prices for drinks - with or without sugar

Malaysia food outlet operators to maintain prices for drinks - with or without sugar

PETALING JAYA - Despite calls by consumers, operators of food outlets say there will be no price reduction when customers order beverages minus sugar.

Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors' General Association president Ho Su Mong said the decision was made as the roasting process of coffee beans required a huge amount of sugar and margarine during the caramelisation stage.

"Whether consumers decide to put sugar in their coffee does not make much difference to the cost," he added.

Consumers and consumer-related non-­governmental organisations had recently called on eateries to charge a lower price for drinks ordered without the sugar.

This followed the announcement in Budget 2014 that the sugar subsidy of 34 sen (S$0.13) per kilo would be abolished.

Ho claimed that although sugar prices had gone up several times in the past few years, coffee shop operators had absorbed the higher costs.

Asked if prices of drinks and sweet foodstuff would also be increased in tandem with the removal of sugar subsidy, Ho said: "We need a month or two to see the real impact of the price increase.

"If it's too much to bear, we will have to pass the cost on to the consumer."

Ho said there were other factors that would also contribute to a price increase in drinks which included a hike in shop rental as well as water, electricity and transportation fees.

Malaysian Indian Muslim Chamber of Commerce head Datuk Jamarulkhan Kadir, who is the former president of the Indian Muslim Restaurant Operators Association, also said there would not be different prices for sugared and sugar-free beverages.

"The increase in the price of sugar per kg is a few cents only and doesn't impact costs that much.

"Prices depend on cost and not taste. Can you have different prices for food that is more pedas (spicy)?

"If there is a minimal increase, we will absorb the cost.

"We don't want to burden the people. Mamak restaurants usually go for volume in business," said Jamarulkhan, who owns a chain of eateries.

He added that the increasing cost of rental was more worrying as it ate up a lot of the eateries' operating costs.

CEO of the Lotus chain of restaurants and companies Datuk Doraisingam Pillai also said there would not be separate prices for beverages.

Fomca secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said eateries should have separate pricing mechanisms if prices of drinks were being increased because of the sugar subsidy remova­l.

"If they are not increasing their prices, then it should not be a problem," he said.

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