|Consumers shop at Metro Hoang Mai in Ha Noi. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, purchasing power during the Lunar New Year holiday is forecast to increase by 15 per cent over last year. — VNA/VNS Photo Bui Tuong
HA NOI (VNS) — The prices of essential foods have been on the rise, although demand has not increased and the Lunar New Year Festival is one month away.
According to the Ministry of Finance's Price Management Department, the prices of meat sold at local markets went up slightly in the first two weeks of December compared with the same period last year.
At several markets in the north, the prices of different kinds of meat have climbed higher by up to VND5,000 (US$0.23) per kilo. Pork prices, for instance, have increased to VND43,000-47,000 ($2-2.2) per kilo, while chicken prices jumped to VND130,000-150,000 ($6.1-7.1) per kilo.
In the south, the same varieties of meat were being sold at between VND47,000 ($2.2) and VND125,000 ($5.9) per kilo, a surge of VND4,000-10,000 ($0.19-0.4).
According to several butchers in Ha Noi, the prices of meat will continue to increase as Tet nears. The price of chicken is expected to be the most volatile and could rise by up to VND20,000 ($0.9) per kilo.
Tran Thi Huong, a trader at the Kim Lien market, said typically, meat prices increase before the Lunar New Year holiday on the back of limited supply and anticipated higher demand.
"Farmers have begun to stockpile goods and they are waiting for prices to rise further, although demand is already picking up," she noted.
In addition, fruit prices have also become volatile. Banana prices, for instance, have risen by 50 per cent, while pomelo prices have gained 10-20 per cent since late November. Other fruit prices have also soared by VND7,000-20,000 ($0.3-0.9) per kilo.
Vegetable prices have also increased rapidly in the past week. Several vegetables have been sold at double or even triple their prices in the wholesale markets.
For example, cabbage is being sold at VND10,000 ($0.4) per kilo at small markets, while its wholesale price is VND4,000 per kilo. Traders said the prolonged cold weather and an increase in petrol prices are the main reasons for the price hike.
However, farmers at other vegetable gardens in Thanh Xuan, Tu Liem, Ha Dong and Hoai Duc districts pointed out that the supply of some vegetables is quite high and that they are being sold at very low prices.
Nguyen Van Tinh, a farmer of the Van Duc Co-operative in Gia Lam District, said the co-operative alone could supply more than 10-15 tonnes of vegetables per day. So, there is no question of a shortage in supply.
Tinh said the prices of some vegetables had, in fact, dropped and farmers are being forced to sell to traders at very low rates.
Nguyen Mac Huong, a resident in Phan Dinh Phung Street, said she had started to stock up on food for Tet after she saw prices rising every day.
"Everything is much more expensive this time. As usual, there is no clear reason," she added.
At a conference on the food supply and demand this Tet, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa confirmed that there will be an adequate supply of goods across the country until New Year's Eve, adding that there are several promotion programmes offering discounts and gifts to consumers, which would reduce the prices of meat by VND10,000 per kilo.
The purchasing power of people before the Lunar New Year holiday is forecast to increase by 15 per cent from last year. Essential foods have seen the biggest gains in prices, up 10 per cent at local supermarkets this year. — VNS