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Retailers told to not price gouge from panic buying

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Shoppers in a supermarket in Phnom Penh stock up on essentials as anxiety and uncertainty over COVID-19 spreads. KT/Pann Rachana

Panic buying has started across Phnom Penh as Cambodian border closures due to COVID-19 causes fear of food shortages in the country, resulting in prices for some food staples to almost double. The Ministry of Commerce has declared it is working to stop opportunistic food sellers’price gouging.

A local food seller has told Khmer Times that dried fish has increased from 25,000 riels ($6.25) to 35,000 riels ($8.75) per kilogramme, pork has increased from 19,000 riels ($4.75) per kilogram to around 30,000 riels ($7.5) per kilogramme, instant noodles increased from 20,000 riels ($5) to 32,000 riels ($8) per box, while other long-life products are also increasing in price.

“We are very concerned about the price of daily commodities rising. The government needs to take strong action, to stop prices rising too much,” they said.

The Ministry of Commerce has already stated that they have requested businesses to stop inflating prices and asked for the full cooperation of “all stores, shops and business people” to work with the Kingdom and help its people in the face of the virus.

Seang Thay, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Commerce spoke to Khmer Times and said that there are measures being taken to calm any potential panic buying. “We have asked sellers not to increase the price of products to unreasonable levels,” he said.

Officers representing the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (Cam-control) will conduct spot checks at markets, shops, malls and stores and explain to sellers why they should desist from hiking up their prices, he added.

Thaung Thyda, the founder of Thaung Enterprise, a local salt production company, told Khmer Times that she has already seen the price of salt rise along with other products in the market. She said she will attempt to keep her products at the same price and ensure continued supply in the country.

“I understand why people are panic buying my products because salt is such a staple of Cambodian life. However, we all need to be calm and support the country during this hard time,” she added.

Tuy Sokneng, food safety and quality assurance manager at Leang Leng, a fish sauce producer, agreed that there has been increased demand for his product recently. “We can see that our products in the supermarket are all sold out and some markets are now completely out of stock. However, we have not increased our prices and will attempt to keep them as normal,” Tuy said.

“We have had to increase the working hours at our factory to try and keep up with a fivefold increase in demand and have also installed various safety measures to ensure the health and safety of our workers and our products.

“Our company is trying to keep the prices the same, however, we are experiencing an increase in raw material prices and this is affecting our production costs. But we are doing our very best to keep our finished product prices the same,” he added.

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