BUKIT MERTAJAM: Shortages in supply and high demand are driving up tomato prices, but the situation is still manageable, said Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry (KPDN) Penang branch director S. Jegan.

He said retail price surveys conducted from January until yesterday at 40 wet markets and 31 selected supermarkets in the state show that tomatoes were sold for RM6 to RM10 per kilogramme (kg), depending on their size.

Yesterday’s wholesale tomato prices ranged from approximately RM5.30 to RM6 per kg, with wholesalers attributing a cost increase on Feb 9, reaching RM6.70 per kg.

“Most tomatoes in wet markets are sourced from Cameron Highlands, while supermarkets sell imports from neighbouring countries and organic farms,” he said adding that feedback from Cameron Highlands farms shows a shortage due to unripe tomatoes and high demand, which are affecting market prices.

“However, tomato prices are expected to drop as transportation companies have resumed delivering vegetable supplies after the Chinese New Year holidays,“ he told Bernama in response to complaints from the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) last Tuesday, that tomato prices had surged from RM8 to RM12 per kg, up from RM5.50 per kg last month.

CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader said that the prices were gathered from market surveys, adding that some retailers reported that distributors and wholesalers had cautioned them about potential price increases for other vegetables.

As such, CAP urged KPDN and the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) to promptly investigate the reported significant rise in tomato prices and to take action against any parties exploiting the situation.

Jegan further commented that his staff have yet to identify any premises selling tomatoes at the prices alleged by CAP.

“Officers from the Price Control Unit have reached out to CAP for additional details regarding the related premises and we are currently awaiting their response.

“If the claim and investigation results are confirmed, enforcement action can be taken under Section 21 of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 and we will not compromise with the errant parties, “ he added. - Bernama