Auckland, March 21, 2020
Many consumers of Indian groceries in general and members of the Indian community have asked Indian Newslink to appeal to ethnic supermarkets, superettes and convenience stores to stop increasing the prices of essential commodities and restore them to the levels that existed last month.
“We understand that these are hard times but considering the fact that international supply lines are open and that most importers and wholesalers always maintain sufficient stock, we request the owners and managers of these retail outlets to retain the prices of rice, dhal and spices at the pre-Covid-19 levels. This would also prevent panic buying,” they said.
Many of them said that the price of most varieties of dhal (especially Tur Dhal) have gone up by as much as $1 to $1.20 per kilogram, while the retail price of biscuits and confectionery from India and South Asian and South East Asian countries have increased threefold in the past three days.
Some readers, who were forced to make purchases at increased cost for fear of stocks running out, have asked the government to intervene and ensure that prices are held back at levels that existed prior to the entry of the coronavirus into New Zealand three weeks ago.
One woman, who wished not to be named that traders who exploit the current crisis should be ashamed of themselves and stop the practice immediately.
“We are community of hard working people. We buy groceries, spices and various items from these stores because we are used to our style of cooking and eating. I request these retailers not to raise prices of commodities. It is hurting us,” she said.
SS Supermart example
Suresh Kumar and Nithya Suresh who own and manage SS Supermart on Sandringham Road in Sandringham, Auckland have been experiencing high levels of sales of almost all items for the past two weeks.
This supermarket sells a vast variety of rice, flours, branded snacks, pickles, powders, spices, toiletry items, biscuits and confectionary, soft drinks, sweets and other items imported directly from Tamil Nadu and from importers of items from India.
The retail stores also stocks locally procured vegetables, fruits and dairy products.
In addition, snacks and breakfast items and specially brewed coffee are prepared by Nithya and sold throughout the day.
“Although there is very high demand for most of our products over the past two weeks, we will not raise the price of any of these items. However, the cost of some items like Tur Dhal and Ginger has gone up, which we have to inevitably charge our customers. I have just heard some people say that they want to seek the help of the authorities to stop the increase in price of items,” he said.
Nithya said that SS Market will continue to prepare South Indian snacks such as Idly, Vada, Dosa and Pongal throughout the trading hours.
“Unless the situation changes, this service will continue. We are also open to order of special food items that are popular in South Indian homes,” Nithya said.
Om Sai service
Darshan Patel, who runs Om Sai supermarket located at Cortina Place in the East Auckland suburb of Pakuranga told Indian Newslink that he will not raise the retail price of any of the goods that he has imported from overseas, but may be obliged to pass on the rise to the goods purchased in New Zealand.
His supermarket sells an extensive range of spices, snacks, soft beverages, coffee, tea, frozen vegetables, desserts, skincare and dentalcare products and pooja items imported from India and diary products and fresh vegetables purchased locally.
Mr Patel said that he considers ‘Om Sai’ not just as a business but also as a service to serve various communities resident in East Auckland and greater Auckland region.
“Indian traders are compassionate and responsible people and I hope that a few people who have raised the prices in recent days will bring them down to levels that existed three weeks ago. Our shop will retain the prices at old levels; however, we may be forced to pass on the increased cost of items that we have to obtain in the local market,” he said.