Food Prices Rise Ahead of Chinese New Year

Phnom Penh residents have been flocking to markets to stock up on celebratory food for Chinese New Year, however, the cost of food is rising and residents are being forced to tighten their purse strings due to swelling inflation
People shop for trees to decorate during the upcoming Chinese New Year in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
People shop for trees to decorate during the upcoming Chinese New Year in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

In the early morning, Phnom Penh residents could be seen flocking to markets to buy food, fruit, flowers, and roast meats. While others spent time cleaning and decorating their homes in preparation of the approaching Chinese New Year.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, Phnom Penh residents are now preparing to properly celebrate the festival on January 22.

However, prices of important Chinese New Year goods, such as roast meats and fruits, are rising ahead of the celebration, and residents say they are attempting to cut back on their expenditures due to inflation.

Sitting in a noodle shop after buying goods at the market, a housewife said that inflation is truly affecting her, while her income remains the same. Therefore, she must reduce her spending to stay afloat.

“In order to resist inflation, we need to reduce our spending,” she said. “For instance, before Covid-19, we used to spend a lot of money on dollar papers and fruit for the celebration. So, we will reduce it by between 30 to 40 percent. We only have this way.”

She added that she has noticed a climb in prices since Covid-19. Therefore, she must spend significantly more money than previously.

A person sells roasted pigs in Phnom Penh for the upcoming Chinese New Year. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A person sells roasted pigs in Phnom Penh for the upcoming Chinese New Year. Kiripost/Siv Channa

“During Chinese New Year, the price of goods has incredibly increased. Almost every good is rising in price, including fruits and fish,” she said. “Currently, we can say that the price has begun to rise while income has remained constant. So, the spending is higher than before.”

Roast pork hangs from metal hooks at meat stores throughout the market. It is marked as an essential part of the celebrations.

Vendor Lim Bunlin said that even after Covid-19, it is still tough for her to sell roast pork due to the declining economy. However, she hopes to sell more than before as the Chinese New Year approaches.

“During Chinese New Year, I have a 90 percent hope of having more consumers,” she said. “Recently, I have seen a lot of people come to buy goods. There are much more people now than there were before the festival.”

She added that despite the price rise, she continues to receive orders from her customers.

“I can sell between 20 and 30 roasted pigs per day,” she said. “Before the celebration, it costs $20 per kilogram. Now it’s nearly Chinese New Year, it costs $25 per kilogram. The cost of pig exports is rising.”

A shop selling decorations for the Chinese New Year in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A shop selling decorations for the Chinese New Year in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

When it comes to the celebration, the price of all items increase; however, the price of goods increasing has no effect on her selling, she added.

On January 17, the Ministry of Health issued a statement to advise individuals to be cautious and take measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, bird flu virus outbreaks, and food and drink poisoning during the forthcoming Chinese New Year.