Saturday January 12, 2013
Spike in coconut prices
By CHRISTINA CHIN and ROYCE TAN
GEORGE TOWN: The price of coconuts is expected to soar as high as RM2 during Thaipusam on Jan 27 as devotees and visitors take advantage of the long holiday break to visit the island during that weekend.
As Prophet Muhammad's birthday falls on Thursday, Jan 24, devotees from outside the state are likely to take Friday off to spend four days here in Penang.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) officer-in-charge of education N.V. Subarow said wholesalers and retailers would definitely charge more for the coconuts although they had yet to confirm by how much.
Subarow, who has been monitoring the demand and supply for coconuts here since last week, said wholesalers and retailers were anticipating a spike in demand, with large groups of devotees and tourists expected to arrive during that weekend.
“Although it is still early and orders have yet to come in, a price increase is definite because of the anticipated demand.
“From what I hear, one coconut could cost up to RM2,” he said.
S. Alagendran, 19, of Amba Coconut Trading Sdn Bhd, has received orders for some 100,000 coconuts since December.
“There is ample supply but I am expecting more orders,” he said, adding that his coconuts were currently selling at RM1.20 each.
Alagendran sold some 140,000 coconuts for Thaipusam last year.
Thum Enterprise owner S. Andrew, 47, who sells coconuts at RM1.50 each, said the demand was not very encouraging so far.
“Usually around this time, customers would be looking around for the best deals, so that by next week they can start placing their orders,” said Andrew, who sold some 40,000 coconuts for Thaipusam last year.
Andrew, who owns a coconut estate in Sabak Bernam, said supply was more than sufficient but labour was a problem.
“Wholesalers and retailers mark up their prices during Thaipusam because of the sudden spike in demand and we have to hire more part-time workers,” he said, adding that an estate worker could harvest at least 2,000 coconuts daily.
Subarow called on devotees not to waste money and break too many coconuts.
“Even breaking one coconut is enough if it is a sincere offering.
“Nowadays, it's not just the Indians but other races and even tourists who join in to break coconuts during Thaipusam. However, they must realise that this practice is not done purely for fun,” he added.
He also advised devotees who wanted to make a more meaningful offering to donate to orphanages or the underprivileged.