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inflation bites Asia’s food stalls -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Choi Sun-hwa, a Korean traditional side dish, sells traditional kimchi in her side dish shop at a traditional Seoul market, South Korea on April 7, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji


(Reuters] – Ma Hong’s hotpot restaurant, spicy in Beijing, has seen its profits drop by around a fifth this year. The reason? Steak tripe prices have risen by over 50%. Other key ingredients have also been rising.

We sell it for the same price we did before. Everyone is struggling to survive the effects of the pandemic. “It is the same across Beijing. We are not the only ones suffering,” Ma stated.

Ma’s Asian street food vendors and restaurants like Ma’s have to make tough choices about whether they will take the higher prices or pass them along and lose loyal customers.

The spiralling costs of raw materials and ingredients that were caused by supply chain issues during the COVID-19 epidemic and which are now being supported by the conflict in Ukraine have been a major problem for consumers and businesses.

Asia has the highest pressure on households because of its street food culture.

Mohammad Ilyas is a Karachi-based cook who works at a biryani outlet. He said that the price for a kilogram (enough to feed 3 to 4 people) has doubled and now costs 400 Pakistani Rupees ($2.20). 

He stated, “I have worked in this kitchen the past 15 years.” “These days, rice and spices are so expensive that the poor can’t afford them.”

Many businesses have reduced their portion sizes to address the rising cost pressures.

At one of Jakarta’s street food corners, nasi goreng vendor Syahrul Zainullah has reduced his servings of the signature Indonesian fried rice dish rather than raise prices or use lower grade ingredients.

Choi Sun-hwa is a South Korean kimchi shop proprietor who, at 67, can only get seven heads of cabbage in South Korea for the same amount she used to buy 10.

Although the spicy fermented Chinese cabbage used to be a side dish at Korean restaurants, this has been deemed an indulgence.

Seo Jaeeun is a Choi customer. He says kimchi should be called now “keum-chi”, keum meaning Korean gold.

She said, “I cannot ask restaurants for more kimchi and it is too costly to make it at home because of high-priced vegetable…so I came to this place to purchase it.”

Choi claims she will not be able continue to do so if prices aren’t raised.

Some Asians’ eating habits are being affected by rising prices.

Steven Chang is a 24-year-old worker in the service sector. He is regular at Just Noodles which is Taipei’s most popular ramen shop, but is now looking to cut back on his spending.

Chang stated, “I don’t live near my parents so I depend on restaurants a lot more.” Chang said, “So I’m going to try to eat less out and make more at home.”

($1 = 182.8200 Pakistani rupees)