By Chris Teh
Most of us are snackers. Nibbling when relaxing at home or even while at work is a panacea for all ills. And while we moan about the rising prices of these snacks, have we given a thought to the price of making those snacks?
Sam Ching, 40, third-generation operator of Ching Han Guan Biscuits, a renowned confectionery shop in Ipoh, said the cost to produce snacks has definitely gone up in recent years.
“For example, one of our bestsellers which is the walnut soft candy requires walnuts imported from California. Back in 2011, they were roughly RM35 per kg. Today, they are priced around RM50 for the same weight,” he explained, citing the annual fluctuation of walnut prices.
“At times, the price would decrease a bit, but it seemed to me that every increment is even higher than the decrement,” he lamented.
Sam stated that the cost hike in ingredients has not affected the shop operations too much, although the preparations for the mid-autumn festival has slowed down other productions.
“We are focusing on mooncake production recently, so we have lessened the production of confectioneries with fewer orders,” he highlighted.
Asked on the quality aspects, Sam frankly answered that the shop will not jeopardize their product quality given any situation.
“We are very lucky to be frequented by loyal and understanding customers for decades, mainly because we stay true to our quality and that is what brought us to where we are today,” he said. “If we don’t have any other alternatives, we will increase our product prices in the future but we will never reduce the volume of ingredients used for our products which is what our customers value.”
P. Ramalingam, 71, titbits (kacang putih) seller at Jalan Panglima, Old Town, stated that the price of titbits has not increased yet.
“I charge the price of titbits based on volume bought,” he said.
“Some customers go for RM2 to RM3 per packet. Some even requested 50 sen!” he jested.
His normal price which is at RM1 per packet is the usual go-to for customers. Asked why he remained at that price, he answered that his customers always come first.
“Most of my customers are office workers and fellow food vendors around the area, so I always have their support. Sometimes, I am patronised by tourists visiting Old Town,” he explained. “For an old-timer like me, the rapport I have with my customers is much more important than what I earn and it is too precious to have it broken by increasing the price per packet of titbits I sell.”
Customers seem generally unfazed by the fact that snacks and titbits are increasing in the overall price. Ipohite Tan Mei Kuan, 28, does not mind the increment to satisfy her occasional cravings, as long as the quality and customer service justify its price.
“Times are changing and living costs are on the rise. So, I totally understand the need to increase the price for what I nibble on. Taste and customer experience should not be compromised, of course,” she explained, citing pineapple tarts as her favourite which are at least RM10 per jar.
Klang-born Shamsulfaris Azim, 23, currently furthering studies in Ipoh, found the snacks and titbits offered around Ipoh are at lower prices compared to his hometown, despite the increment.
“I wouldn’t be worried about the price in Ipoh. It is always much more expensive to buy even a small packet of titbits in Klang,” he explained, citing the average price to be more than RM3.
So Ipohites, we should be thankful for our blessings.