Consumers expect drop in imported veggie prices immediately

05/12/2011 16:38

Once again the traders took advantage of 2012 Budget by increasing the price of products where there was an increase in duty but did not drop the price of products where the duty has decreased. For example the price of alcohol and cigarettes went up within few hours after the budget where as price of imported veggie has remained the same. Alcohol and cigarettes were old stock and yet the price went up whereas for imported veggies (also old stock), the price remained same despite duty reduction. The argument used by traders is inconsistent.

Consumers are expecting the prices of vegetables to drop following the Government’s Budget 2012 revenue policy whereby fiscal duty on imported fruits and vegetables has dropped from 32% to 5%.

Imported fruits and vegetables are important as some are either no grown locally or local supply is unable to keep up with the high demand. There are also specialty vegetables such as snow peas, asparagus and celery that are not available locally, but are important ingredients in ethnic dishes.

The Council conducted quick survey in supermarket outlets in Suva City, Lautoka and Labasa last week 28/11 – 01/12 to ascertain the prices of some imported fruits and vegetables that are targeted in decrease of fiscal duty. [Suva City – New World Ninat St, MHCC, MH Super Fresh, RB Patel Marketpoint (and Cost-U-Less for leeks and snow peas) ; Lautoka City – New World, MH, Shop n Save, Foodtown; Labasa – New World, MH ]. A total of 26 imported fruits and vegetables were surveyed [See Table attached].

The survey found the average price of imported garlic for the surveyed supermarkets in Suva to be around $2.82 per kilogram, in Lautoka it was $2.84 and in Labasa $2.40. Celery, found in 8 of the 9 outlets surveyed was selling at around $5.99 to $9.99 per kg. The average price of celery in Suva was around $7.00 per kg, in Lautoka it was around $7.50/kg, while in Labasa it was $8.99. Imported carrots averaged $2.66 per kg. In Suva carrots averaged around $2.63/kg, in Lautoka $2.73 and in Labasa $2.57. Capsicum, one of the most expensive imported vegetable on the market averaged $33.98/kg in Suva and $24.97/kg in Lautoka. Interestingly capsicum at one outlet in Labasa was selling for $9.99/kg with claims that it was imported, although the price in Suva is three times more expensive.

The most expensive imported vegetables were asparagus priced as an average of $59 per kg and snow peas with an average price of $55 per kg.

The Council expects retailers and other sellers of imported vegetables to pass on the drop in duty to consumers via a drop in prices. The Council has noticed that Government initiatives for business via decreases in duty do not always translate into lower retail prices for consumers who should be the final beneficiaries of the change in policy and one of the reason why the change was brought about.

The Council will be monitoring the prices of imported vegetables regularly in the coming days up to early 2012 to see if the policy intentions of government are realized i.e. a decrease in the price of imported fruits and vegetables for consumers.