Saturday, April 05, 2008

‘Ricing’ (Rising) cost

The topic of ‘Rice’ hogged the headlines of local news this week following its soaring price all over Asia, including Singapore.

Reasons for the increase in price boils down to these three main factors:

1) Higher fuel costs, with crude soaring above US $100 a barrel and threatening to stay that way, have been a major factor in the crisis, making fertilizer more expensive and increasing transport costs.
2) In Southeast Asia, disease, pests and an unparalleled 45-day cold snap that extended from China to Vietnam in January and February have also hurt harvests. Flooding in the Philippines and Vietnam has added to the growing crisis.
3) Medium-grade rice exported from Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporter, reached $760 a metric ton, up from $360 a ton at the end of last year.

Singaporeans, including me are feeling the pinch when we witness our forking of extra few hard-earned dollars for the same kilogram of rice.

Some hawkers in Singapore may also be capitalising on this surge of rice price to increase the price of their rice dishes by a few cents. I patron regularly a food stall which sell reasonably-priced ‘chap chai ben’ but now for the same few dishes and the same amount of rice, the hawker charges me an additional 20 cents!

I asked the hawker why the price increases, he replied me that it was ‘a natural thing’ to do and he had ‘no choice’ but to increase his price following the surge in price of rice.

Well, he certainly has other alternatives, not all the hawkers in Singapore are increasing the prices of their rice dishes to defray the rising cost of rice. This hawker is certainly killing his business and disappointing his ‘loyal customer’ by his price-increase feat. I would think twice before buying food from him again in future.

How apt is the man’s lament ‘This rising, that rising’ in the recent ad by the retailer Courts.

Meanwhile, governments of rice importing countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, are expressing concern that rising prices could spark unrest.

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