Malaysia: Stronger ringgit could lead to lower imported veg prices

As the Malaysian ringgit strengthens against the US dollar, vegetable prices could come down. This could bring down the price of imported produce as well, say traders. The ringgit, which has lost close to 20% of its value since 2015, came to the important mark of 4 RM to the dollar last Friday. This is its highest level against the US dollar since August 2016, on the back of improving oil prices.

To meet local demand, vegetables and fruits are imported from China, India and Australia. Statistics by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority showed that the country imported 2.2 million tonnes of vegetables and fruits in 2014.

Prices are expected to improve if the ringgit strengthens again. A survey of prices of select vegetables at four areas in the country by The Malaysian Insight showed that prices were low at more than half of the supermarkets in the study, this despite the monsoon season.

Kota Sentosa vegetable seller Ah Ming said cabbages, carrots and tomatoes were all imported either from overseas or from the peninsula, and also attributed the high price of vegetables to a weak ringgit. Prices are also high during the rainy season which interrupts supplies from farms in the peninsula.

However, some people caution against thinking that prices will come down just because the ringgit strengthens. “Once the prices have gone up, it’s very hard to come down.”

[ 1 Malaysian ringgit = 0.25 US dollars or 0.21 euros ]

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