Cheap food stands at stores to ease rising cost of living

Cheap food stands at stores to ease rising cost of living

Leading department stores have agreed to set up a corner at all branches selling popular prepared foods for 35-40 baht a dish for four months starting as early as next Tuesday.

Employees stock shelves at the Tesco Lotus hypermarket on Rama II Road in Bangkok. Retailers will introduce kiosks selling low-cost prepared food starting next Tuesday. The discounted foods will include 10 popular menu items. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya, speaking after meeting yesterday with leading retailers and department store operators, said Central and The Mall would have kiosks selling prepared food at 40 baht a dish at their outlets, while Big C, Tesco Lotus, Makro, MBK and Tops would provide food at 30-35 baht a dish.

The discounted foods will include 10 popular menu items such as phat kraphao (fried pork or chicken with basil leaves), phat siew (fried noodles in soy sauce) and rat na (fried noodle with pork and broccoli).

The project will start no later than Feb 17 and run until June 30.

For the food kiosks outside department or retail stores, the government has assigned the Internal Trade Department to closely supervise and beef up inspection, Gen Chatchai said.

He said if they were found to be charging excessive prices, authorities stood ready to take legal action against them.

Penalties include a maximum of seven years' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 140,000 baht.

The Commerce Ministry has been pressing operators and manufacturers to cut product prices to reflect falling oil prices.

The ministry succeeded in cutting prices for products such as lube oil, plastic pellets, cement, roof tiles and steel.

On Jan 7, Gen Chatchai said 43 consumer items, particularly those on the ministry's price control list, could become subject to price cuts in the light of falling oil prices.

The price control list covers essential items for daily use such as food, consumer products, farm-related products (fertilisers, pesticides, animal feed, tractors, rice harvesters), construction materials, paper, petroleum and medicines.

Listed foods include garlic, paddy rice, milled rice, corn, eggs, cassava, wheat flour, yoghurt, powdered/fresh milk, sugar, vegetable/animal oil and pork.

Consumer products include detergents, sanitary napkins and toilet paper.

Businesses making or selling products on the list are required to inform the authorities of their production costs and seek approval before any price increase.

The Commerce Ministry also recently pitched the idea of introducing low-cost department stores as part of efforts to tackle the rising cost of living.

The budget department stores would be run and invested in by the private sector, which would set up the outlets at easily accessible locations.

The first low-cost department store is expected to open in May, with the number set to rise to 14 this year and 142 in five years.

The government is also committed to continuing the Thong Fa (Blue Flag) scheme of selling low-priced products in crowded communities.

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