October 16, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – Regular Grade A, B and C eggs may cost 10sen more, and chicken prices hover at about RM9 per kilo when the ceiling price for the items is lifted.
The prices of the two items will fluctuate over the next several months depending on supply, with consumers likely to pay more initially before prices stabilise.
Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, who runs one of the largest chains of hypermarkets in the country, said that although the move would help stabilise the supply of chicken and regular eggs in the market, there would be fluctuations in their prices.
“I foresee that the prices of regular Grade A, B and C eggs will go up by about 10sen per egg from 45sen to about 55sen.
“It can’t go higher than the cost of Omega eggs, which are currently sold between 60sen and 65sen,” he said when contacted yesterday.
He added that the impact on the availability of regular eggs in the market would not be felt immediately following the lifting of the ceiling price.
“It will take a month or two for eggs to become more easily available,” he added.
As for chicken prices, Ameer said they would remain within the current prices even after the ceiling price is lifted.
“At the moment, the ceiling price for chicken is RM9.40 per kilo, but it is being sold at about RM8.40.
“I don’t foresee chicken prices going up too high even without price control because the price of chicken internationally has dropped.
“Even if chicken prices go up, it should be around RM9.40,” he said.
Ameer said the government must spell out the price-lifting details, including ensuring that suppliers do not resort to tactics that could drive up prices.
“If they (suppliers) are naughty, we can always import chicken, as their current prices are about the same,” he said.
He added that there is also the Price Control Anti-Profiteering Act, which could be used against unscrupulous parties.
On Friday, Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, when announcing Budget 2024, said the temporary ceiling price imposed on chicken and eggs will be lifted to allow market forces to ensure supply.
He said the current retail price is far below the controlled ceiling price, adding that the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry will announce further details.
Since February 2022, the government has forked out RM3.8bil for chicken and egg subsidies.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) education officer NV Subbarow said the government should reconsider lifting the ceiling prices of chicken and regular eggs as they are concerned that the move will push up prices, which are essential staples for the common folk, particularly families in the B40 group.
“Those selling chicken and regular eggs will now become the boss because they can fix the prices.
“The government should reconsider the move as chicken and eggs are staple items widely consumed by Malaysians, particularly those in the B40,” he said when contacted yesterday.
He added that there are worries that the supply of these items could be deliberately suppressed by suppliers to drive their prices up in the absence of a controlled ceiling price.
“This is the usual tactic and culture used during festive seasons to earn extra profits,” he added.
Subbarow said a hike in chicken and egg prices would have a cascading effect on related food items.
“The cost of related food items such as satay, chicken rice and fried chicken rice may eventually go up,” he said.
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations chief executive officer Dr Saravanan Thambirajah said removing the price ceiling is timely because there is an oversupply of chicken now.
“While some places might see a slight increase of 1% to 2% in prices, it may be cheaper in someplaces.
“It depends on where and what the demand is,” he said, adding that this gives room for healthy competition.
He said consumers would eventually benefit, as all markets and shopping places would resort to pricing to attract shoppers.
“Usually, chicken prices will become the pulling factor. Consumers will be the winners,” he said.
However, he said measures must be taken to ensure sufficient supplies of the items to ensure competitive market prices.
“Some places, usually densely populated urban areas with high demand, experience a shortage of eggs in isolated cases,” he said.
He added that enforcement is crucial to ensuring the prices of goods are not raised arbitrarily.