|Phan Dang Tuat, chairman of Sai Gon Beverage Co (Sabeco), said the prices of the company's two main products, 333 and Red Sai Gon – which account for 80 per cent of Sabeco's production – have not risen.— File Photo
Complied by Le Hung Vong
With Tet (the Lunar New Year) still seven weeks away, beer prices have already started to rise.
A sales agent on Nguyen Van Nghi Street in HCM City's Go Vap District said prices of brands like Heineken, Tiger, and Saigon Special are higher than a month ago.
A carton of Heineken beer was sold for VND385,000 (US$18.8) last week compared with VND370,000 ($18.1) in mid-November.
Breweries increased prices by VND10,000-20,000 (50 cents-$1) per case in December.
A wholesaler said the price hikes were due to a 7 per cent increase by Viet Nam Brewery Limited (VBL), the manufacturer of Heineken and Tiger beers.
The price at the gate of a carton of Heineken is VND352,000 ($17.2). After passing through intermediaries, it rises to VND390,000 -395,000 ($19.1-19.3) by the time it reaches the consumer.
Phan Dang Tuat, chairman of Sai Gon Beverage Co (Sabeco), said the prices of the company's two main products, 333 and Red Sai Gon – which account for 80 per cent of Sabeco's production – have not risen.
"We have no plans to hike prices of these beers during Tet," Tuoi Tre quoted him as saying.
Speaking at a meeting held by the city Department of Industry and Trade on last week's Wednesday, its deputy director, Le Ngoc Dao, asked VBL to report on its beer production and distribution.
He also ordered it to ensure agents keep prices stable and publicise them.
Nguyen Thanh Dat, VBL's public relations manager, said the company has 41 first-level sales agencies in the city and fully meets their demand "so there is no shortage of supply."
But on Wednesday last week prices of brands like Heineken, Tiger, and 333 continued to rise.
At a shop on Dao Duy Anh Street in HCM City's Phu Nhuan District, 333 beer was sold for VND225,000 ($11) per carton and Tiger for VND380,000 ($18.6), up VND5,000 compared with a day earlier.
Mui Ne to get airport
Central Binh Thuan Province and the Ministry of Transport have announced plans to build an airport in Phan Thiet by 2017.
The airport, to cost over VND5.6 trillion ($265 million), will come up on a 543ha site in Thien Nghiep commune near Mui Ne beach, where tourism has been booming in last few decades.
It will be used for both military and civilian purposes.
Phan Thiet Airport will be able to accommodate smaller planes like Fokker 70 and ATR72, and handle an expected 500,000 passengers per year.
It will also have a landing area for helicopters.
Once completed, the airport will help spur tourism development in Binh Thuan, especially in Phan Thiet, which is now home to hundreds of luxury beach resorts, since air services will shorten the travel time from HCM City and Nha Trang City to Phan Thiet to 45 minutes.
It now takes five to six hours to travel from HCM City by road due to the increasing traffic.
In the first of two phases, from now through 2020, the airport will be built on 360ha with a 2.4-km runway and 5,000sq.m terminal to handle a maximum of 300 passengers per peak hour (or 500,000 passengers per year) and 10,000 tonnes of cargo annually.
In 2020-30 period, if market conditions are favourable, the airport could handle some one million passengers and 40,000-50,000 tonnes of cargo annually.
Deputy Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu said Binh Thuan has ideal geographical conditions for socio-economic development, but the lack of an airport and poor transport facilities has hindered its development.
Chinese traders buy up pigs
The exports of large numbers of pigs through the northern border have caused pork prices in northern provinces to rise by VND5,000 per kilo, while the heavy buying of female ducks by Chinese traders in the Mekong Delta has pushed up duck prices by VND10,000 per bird.
The massive purchase of pigs at farms have forced pork prices up in the north, and threatens to cause a shortage of pork during Tet next month.
Nguyen Van Trong, deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Department of Husbandry, said because of the abundant supply pork, it sells for only VND40,000 - 43,000 per kilo in the local market. Meanwhile Chinese traders are willing to pay up to VND50,000.
The purchase of "overweight" pigs for the Chinese market is helping farmers earn some profits since mid-November 2013, but has taken the price of pork on the hoof to VND50,000 per kilo.
He said that until recently pork only fetched VND38,000 - 40,000, and, occasionally, even VND36,000, far below production cost – of VND40,000 - 42,000 per kilo, causing farmers to suffer losses.
According to the department, the Chinese market is "erratic" and could stop buying at any moment, meaning farmers raising the extra-fat pigs could lose badly since demand for them is not high in Viet Nam.
The department said pork prices are likely to increase by 5–10 per cent during Tet due to the rising demand.
To ensure adequate supply then, relevant agencies should carefully monitor the market and take timely action, it said.
A similar situation faces farmers in the Mekong City of Can Tho, with Chinese traders flocking to O Mon District to buy female ducks and willing to pay VND50,000-60,000 for each.
After other unusual purchases in the past – like buffalo and cow hooves, leeches, yellow snails, and obese pigs – Chinese traders have now turned to female ducks, Truong Van Phu, deputy head of business at the O Mon People's Committee, said.
This has forced duck prices up in most districts of Can Tho.
Following an inspection last week which found a slaughterhouse preparing to sell some 14,000 packed ducks to China, O Mon authorities warned farmers to be careful about selling female ducks in large numbers. — VNS