‘Most people are complaining’: With food inflation higher at 4.1%, Malaysian consumers are feeling the pinch

KUALA LUMPUR: Every time Ms Michelle Tan, 33, goes to the market or supermarket, she does not know what to expect in terms of the amount of cash she has to fork out for groceries.

The marketing executive at a multinational company noticed that the prices of most food items have gone up in the past few months.

“It is unavoidable that prices are increasing but unfortunately our salaries remain stagnant. As a middle-income family, we are cutting down on food items that are considered a luxury,” Ms Tan, who lives with her parents in Kuala Lumpur, told CNA.

Salmon that once cost RM65 (US$14.80) per kg is now RM90, cut chicken which was RM19.90 is now RM25.90, while minced pork has increased by RM6 per kg, she said.

“We don’t eat salmon anymore. We switched to chicken but even chicken prices are increasing. If we can feel the pinch, I shudder to think how the lower income group is getting by,” she said, adding that she also eats at home more these days.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia's April consumer price index (CPI) report, food inflation was 4.1 per cent higher compared to the same month last year, with 89.1 per cent of items in the food and beverages group recording price increases.

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It said that this group of items – the largest component of household spending – showed the highest increase since January 2018.

The subgroup of milk, cheese and eggs increased by 7.2 per cent compared to April last year, while meat, vegetables, fish and seafood, as well as oils and fats increased by 6.2 per cent, 4.5 per cent, 3.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively.

The department noted in its report that was released on May 25 that the increase in demand for food materials during Ramadan, especially from the main sectors of the food industry such as catering, hotels and Ramadan bazaars, had put pressure on food inflation.

Headline inflation is projected to average between 2.2 and 3.2 per cent this year, according to the central bank, while industry players cited the ringgit’s depreciation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the new minimum wage policy and logistics issues as among the factors contributing to high prices.

The government, for its part, has spent billions on subsidies and introduced price control systems to prevent the prices of goods from spiralling up even further.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in an interview with Nikkei, said the government was keen on re-introducing the Goods and Services Tax to ease fiscal strain.

Artmotion Asia

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