Pricing clash boils down to lack of markets

Top News | Cindy Wan 4 Feb 2019

An egg sold in a Tin Shui Wai wet market costs 70 percent more than in nearby Yuen Long.

It was among findings announced by district concern groups that compared prices of nine popular food items in the markets of Tin Shui Wai against Yuen Long, as well as Tung Chung against Tsuen Wan.

In Tin Shui Wai and Tung Chung, food items cost 20 to 30 percent more than in neighboring districts, according to the survey conducted by the Alliance on the Development of Public Market.

An egg from Thailand costs HK$1.80 on average in Tin Shui Wai markets, but the same egg costs only about HK$1.10 in Yuen Long, the survey found.

Garlic and ginger were the only cheaper items out of the nine compared, while choi sum, beef and oranges cost 30 percent more in Tin Shui Wai.

Some poor families have to go to Yuen Long - or even cross the border to Shenzhen - to buy cheaper food, according to the alliance.

Tin Shui Wai resident Ms Ho, 61, said she buys food in Tai Po three times a week, after discovering prices there are 30 percent lower than the wet market in her area.

Parkson Yeung Kin-bun, officer of Tin Shui Wai Community Development Alliance, said the five wet markets face virtually no competition as four are owned and managed by Link Real Estate Investment Trust.

Although the District Council adopted a motion that supports building a new wet market next to the MTR station in October, residents are concerned about the location, he said.

"Tin Shui Wai is a long rectangular district. People living in the north find the proposed market too far away from their homes," he said.

More than 60 percent of the 242 Tin Shui Wai residents interviewed agreed to building another wet market in the north.

Meanwhile, Tung Chung residents face similar problems, as all nine food items compared in the survey were more expensive.

The average price for 600 grams of ginger was HK$25 in Tung Chung, but only half that in Tsuen Wan.

Choi sum, garlic and eggs were also 50 percent more expensive in the two wet markets, compared to Tsuen Wan. Almost all of the 222 Tung Chung residents canvassed agreed their food prices are higher, and about half said there are not enough choices.

The government has proposed a new two-story market with 80 stalls next to Tung Chung MTR Station in the 2018 policy address, but more than 60 percent of respondents found the scale to be too small.

The population-based planning standard for public markets is set at 40 to 45 stalls per 10,000 people by the Planning Department.

Under this standard, Tung Chung will need an additional 300 stalls to meet the growing needs if the population increases to 220,000 following the government's plans for North Lantau.

As it takes about five to six years to establish a public wet market, the Alliance suggested transforming the current Tin Sau Bazaar in Tin Shui Wai into a temporary market, while establishing another temporary market on the idle land behind the North Lantau Hospital.

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