Grocery prices up: survey

PRICE MONITORING::The survey was conducted over the course of a year by taking price samples of consumer goods once or twice a month and comparing the prices

By Hsieh Wen-hua and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 - Page 5

The Consumers’ Foundation said a recent survey of grocery items sold at supermarkets found the prices of various items have increased over the past year, with the prices of eggs and toothpaste rising by about 7 percent.

The foundation said the survey indicated that consumers are feeling the pinch, even though President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who, when he accompanied his mother in doing Lunar New Year shopping at a market in Taipei on Feb. 8, said that he did not feel grocery prices had gone up.

Saying the government had not done enough to stabilize prices of consumer goods, foundation chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) said: “The double hike of fuel and electricity prices in April last year led to an overall price increase for consumer products. I haven’t seen the Executive Yuan’s price stabilization task force do anything about it.”

“The increase for any particular product was not particularly large, but since workers’ wages have not increased, an extra NT$10 here and an extra NT$20 there all add up,” he said.

“Each household has to spend several thousands of NT dollars extra a year for groceries,” he added.

Despite slashing import duties on milk powder products for infants by 50 percent from November 2011 to May last year, Chang said that the products’ average prices increased in the second half of last year, compared with prices in the first half of the year.

It was the same for cooking oil and soy sauce products, he said.

“The public did not feel they benefited from the reduction in the import duty. Instead they were buying more expensive milk powder items last year. This shows the policy and effect of cutting the import duty should be re-examined,” Chang said.

Chang said volunteers from his foundation conducted the survey over the course of the year, taking price samples on 12 basic consumer products, monitoring the same item at the same supermarket once or twice each month.

Foundation secretary-general Lei Li-fen (雷立芬) said price increases were seen in a number of grocery items, with 63 percent of cooking oil products seeing the most obvious price increase.

Taking cooking oils as an example, Lei said the average increase was 7.63 percent for the second half of last year compared with the first half, which was about 3 percent. Of the 19 cooking oil items that went up in price, nine saw increases of more than NT$20, she added.

For soy sauce items, 58 percent saw price increases averaging about 1 percent, she said.

The survey also found that 50 percent of milk powder products for infants became more expensive last year.

KLIM’s 1.5kg “Super Kid” milk powder sold in a PX Mart store in Taipei, saw the highest increase at NT$15.17, while at another Taipei PX Mart store, 1kg of Weichuan-brand “S3 Infant Milk Powder” had the highest percentage increase at 4 percent, the survey showed.