Mandarin oranges to cost up to 60% more than last year

GEORGE TOWN: The price of lokam (mandarin oranges) from China will be dearer by 20% to 60% this year due to a shortage of supply.

Sunshine Wholesale Mart Sdn Bhd retail operations manager Yee Kam Ming said the crop was slightly smaller compared to last year due to the drought in the Fujian province from June to October last year.

"This year, the lokam are very lopsided with 60% to 70% of the harvest being 65mm or smaller. The smaller ones are between 45mm and 50mm, which are not really marketable."

Yee added that the increase in domestic demand in China had resulted in significantly lower supply to importing countries.

This year, the wholesale mart will be importing some 90,000 cartons of mandarin oranges.

A 4kg box of extra large-sized lokam is now selling at RM16.88 (s$6.52) compared to RM15.50 last year, while the 8kg large-sized ones cost RM28.88 compared to RM25.68.

The prices are expected to increase as Chinese New Year draws closer.

However, Yee added that the quality of the fruit was better this year.

"The lack of rain causes a huge decline in the crop but the quality and taste are better," he said.

Yee said that they would also be importing Teochew kam (Teochew mandarin oranges) from Guangdong province and the price would be up by 30% to 40% this year.

The price has been tentatively set at RM45.88 compared to RM35.90 per crate last year.

"A lot of fruits were damaged due to the prolonged rainy spell in Guangdong, so the price has hit an all-time high," Yee said.

"The market for Teochew kam is decreasing but there are still those who want it for prayers and also for its special fragrance."