“We need to fry the items every day and we have to make sure the oil is fresh,” said Mr Low, who has been running a ngoh hiang prawn cracker stall for more than 50 years.
The majority of hawkers in the association, 80 per cent, raised their prices recently, he said.
INFLATION STILL RISING
This comes as Singapore’s core inflation rose to a 10-year high of 2.9 per cent year-on-year in March.
In its macroeconomic review published on Thursday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said non-cooked food inflation climbed to 3 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, up from 2.5 per cent in the preceding quarter, amid rising prices in fish, seafood and meat.
Adverse weather conditions including severe flooding in Malaysia late last year also affected fish supplies.
“Meanwhile, labour shortages in Singapore’s key meat import source countries (eg Brazil and Malaysia) as well as elevated feed costs drove poultry prices higher,” the central bank said.
The pace of price increases of fruits and vegetables also remained “elevated” in the first quarter at 3.4 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively, MAS said.
CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun told CNA it is hard to say when the prices would stabilise given that the factors leading to the increase are variable, although he ventured that it would not be in the near term.
The increase in prices in hawker fare is justified, he said.
“If running a food store and selling their food cost more, it’s fair that we pay more and certainly, we can afford to pay more,” he said.
“THE AMOUNT ADDS UP”
Still, some hawkers said they raised their prices reluctantly, after much thought.
The son of a soya bean products stallholder said his father only agreed to increase prices in January this year after much prodding from his family.
A glass of soya bean milk at his stall in Pek Kio Market and Food Centre now costs 80 cents, up from 70 cents. Taking away the drink in a paper cup costs S$1.40, up from S$1.20, to reflect the additional beverage that the cup accommodates and the cost of the packaging.
Each carton of 1,000 paper cups increased by S$10 to S$20 two months ago and the price of the plastic carriers also increased last week, said the son, who only wanted to be known as Mr Teo.
“It may be a few cents to people, but if you sell every day, the amount adds up,” the 29-year-old said.
His father wanted to keep the prices low so that prices remain affordable for the regulars – many of them elderly – who frequent his stall.
“He wants to keep things cheap. He doesn’t dare increase (the price) so much. His mindset is that he wants people to be able to afford his product,” Mr Teo said.