Beef prices push hotpot tabs higher

Top News | Wallis Wang and Michael Shum 20 Oct 2021

Meat lovers will have to start paying a big chunk more for hotpots containing their favorite mainland "fatty beef" amid rising costs in raising cattle.

The wholesale price per 100 catties of fatty beef will be raised by 8 percent to HK$5,710 from HK$5,280 starting from tomorrow, sole distributor Ng Fung Hong said.

The agent explained that the big rise in the price of fresh beef has been caused by a rising demand on the mainland and the high cost of animal farming.

The increase is considerably more than has been experienced in previous price hikes, which have usually ranged from HK$100 to HK$200 per 100 catties. A cow weighing 600 catties (360 kilograms) will by tomorrow be costing HK$2,000 more than before.

The price for "improved beef" - a mainland term for cattle raised there - is up by more than 3 percent from HK$4,820 per 100 catties to HK$4,970.

And Hui Wai-kin, convener of the Fresh Beef Traders Alliance, told The Standard it was hard to predict just how high the retail price for fresh beef will rise.

He explained: "It's unknown whether retailers will raise their prices sharply immediately because the market for fresh beef will shrink if the price keeps going up. "Beef is already at a high price in local markets, and a further increase of the retail price will deter would-be customers from purchasing."

And Hui warned that the surge in the price of fatty beef will affect all fresh beef in Hong Kong as all stocks come from the mainland.

Also, he said, authorities should stop allowing Ng Fung Hong to be the sole distributor for mainland beef.

The owner of a stall selling fresh beef at Yeung Uk Road market in Tseun Wan, Wai, said Ng Fung Hong had raised the price of beef by 6-7 percent at the beginning of the year, and now he has to raise his retail prices again with the latest hike in the wholesale price.

He added that the extent of the increases would depend on the quality of beef.

The Hong Kong Cattle Slaughter Trade Association had said earlier that retailers have no choice but to pass the price hike on to consumers.

The increase also came right before the weather turns right for hotpot aficionados to tuck into a favorite meal.

For the Hong Kong Observatory forecast is for the SAR's temperature to drop by 9 degrees Celsius starting from tomorrow. So the maximum temperature could be 18 degrees C on Friday.

Northern areas of Hong Kong are expected to see the mercury falling even lower, with Tai Po, Sheung Shui, Ta Kwu Ling and Lau Fau Shan expected to be experiencing 17 degrees C in the early hours of Friday.

The Observatory explained that the fall in temperatures comes with an easterly airstream affecting the coast of Guangdong today, while a cold front will form over central China and move gradually to reach the coast of southern China tomorrow.

Additionally, rain showers are forecast under the influence of the associated northeast monsoon in the following couple of days,

With the chill predictions in mind and already a slight drop in temperatures noted, Hongkongers have been stocking up with ingredients for hotpot.

The operator of a frozen meat shop said that more people have been purchasing beef, soup base and other ingredients for hotpot in the past two days, delivering a 20-30 percent increase in takings. And he has stocked up with the weather turning cooler.

An operator of a Yuen Long hotpot restaurant is now fully booked for next week.

"Thanks to the consumption vouchers and the relaxed social restriction rules, our business increased by 20 to 30 percent recently with each customer spending about HK$400 to HK$500," he said.

More people will be splashing out on hotpot in the coming cooler days, he predicted.

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