Food Prices Going Down After Tet

VIET NAM - The prices of most of food items in Hanoi have been decreasing, except chicken and some kinds of seafood. The abundant supplies and the consumers' policy on tightening their purse strings have been cited as the main reasons behind the price decreases.
calendar icon 11 February 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

In previous years, the prices always went up right after Tet when not many suppliers resumed the supply after long holidays. However, the situation is quite different this year. While the supplies remain profuse, the demand is low as consumers have been tightening their purse strings after they spent a lot of money on Tet already.

Local newspaper VnExpress reported that the prices of vegetables in Hanoi have decreased significantly in the last two weeks. Certain kinds of vegetables have even seen the prices cut by a half in comparison with pre-Tet days. The warm weather makes the vegetable supplies in the capital abundant.

At some markets in Hanoi like Kim Lien, Thanh Cong, Giang Vo and Doan Thi Diem, the price of one kilogram of tomatoes is now between VND 14,000-16,000, a decrease of VND 6,000 over the previous week and VND 10,000 over the week just before Tet. Kohlrabi, cabbage, and water dropwort have seen the sharpest price decreases among the vegetables. A bulb of kohlrabi is now selling at between VND 500-1,000, while it was sold at VND 5,000-7,000 in the days just before Tet.

Nhan, the owner of a vegetable stall at Nam Dong market in Hanoi, said that vegetables are diversified and abundant. After the historical flood in November 2008, which severely damaged vegetable growing areas, farmers in the suburb areas of the city rushed to farm vegetables hoping to earn a lot of money. As the result, the supplies of vegetable have become available in excess threatening to see the supply exceed the demand.

“I think the vegetable prices will continue dropping sharply in the time to come,” Nhan said.

The prices of foodstuff like shrimp, crabs, fish, pork and beef have also seen slight decreases over pre-Tet days. Meanwhile, the chicken prices remain at very high levels and have been forecasted to see further price increases in the near future.

A kilogram of black tiger shrimp is selling at VND 280,000-300,000 per kilo, down by VND 3,000 over the pre-Tet week, but this represents the 30 per cent increase in comparison with the same period of 2008. Black carp fish is selling at VND 120,000-125,000 per kilo, down by VND 5,000, while the best quality pork is selling at VND 120,000 per kilo, down by VND 8,000.

Other foodstuffs have also seen prices decrease. Beef, for example, has seen the decrease of VND 5,000-10,000 per kilo.

Mai, the owner of a chicken stall at Thai Ha market, said that the demand for chicken has been decreasing as Vietnamese people have the habit of making offerings with chicken. A kilogram of chicken is now selling at VND 120,000-130,000, or VND 5,000 more expensive that the previous week.

Mai also said that the information about the big volume of birds culled recently as they had not have clear origins has also led to the supplies to become shorter.

Supermarkets in Hanoi have been stabilizing the sale prices for the majority of products, while some foodstuff items have seen the prices decrease by 5 per cent.

Vu Vinh Phu, Chairman of the Hanoi Supermarket Association, said that the good supplies have helped the prices decrease over pre-Tet days. However, he said that the current prices prove to be relatively high in comparison with previous years.

For example, at the beginning of 2008, a kilogram of griskin was sold at VND 50,000-65,000 per kilo, while it has jumped to VND 75,000-80,000. Vegetables, which were sold at VND 90,000 per litre, have jumped to VND 150,000. Gas prices have increased three times since the beginning of the year by VND 40,000 for a 12-kilo tank.

“It is unfeasible to expect the commodity prices to drop to the levels of the previous years. However, if state management agencies can control enterprises’ production cost and balance the market supply and demand, consumers have every reason to believe that the prices would continue decreasing in the time to come,” Phu said.

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