State-run Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖), the nation’s biggest sugar provider, reiterated yesterday it will indefinitely freeze price hikes on sugar and cooking oil products in response to the government’s policy to stabilize consumer prices.
This came after the company released a statement on its Web site on Thursday evening, denying media reports it planned to raise prices to reflect rising costs.
“Taisugar has no intention of adjusting prices on sugar and cooking oil products in the near future” despite the spike in international commodity costs, company deputy chief executive officer Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥) said.
Government policy and public opinion, in addition to market and cost concerns, have guided the company’s pricing decisions, Chen said.
Chen said Taisugar briefed the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Wednesday on global trends in sugar and cooking oil products and suggested responsive measures. He refused to elaborate and dismissed reports of price hikes as media speculation.
“There is no timetable for price adjustments,” he said. “I can’t say how long the freeze will last depending on public sentiment and government policy.”
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday instructed the Executive Yuan to pay attention to a possible increase in food prices.
The government will “pay -attention” to food prices, said Ma while attending a ceremony at Chi-nan Temple.
Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said the president meets with related government bodies every week to discuss the issue of food prices and supplies of locally produced food.
Government concern over food price hikes is believed to have been the main reason behind Taisugar’s decision to announce a price freeze.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday said it had reached a consensus with food and beverage associations to help stabilize consumables prices.
“These companies agreed to pass on the costs ‘reasonably’ to the consumer and not to collude in hiking prices or increase inventories to artificially create supply constraints,” the ministry said in a statement after meeting with industry associations.
Manufacturers undertook to take into the account reduced government tariffs on raw materials and the strengthened New Taiwan dollar when determining the prices of consumables, the statement read.
Despite the ministry’s words of comfort, Taiwan Flour Mills Association told the Central News Agency that vendors are under extreme pressure to raise prices.
Citing wheat as an example, the association said it had risen 17 percent in price and reduced taxes would not help defray such costs by much.