Is Malaysia under siege by food cartels?

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) urges the government to make public its investigation into food cartels because their existence in the food distribution system will further jeopardize the country’s food insecurity that we are experiencing for decades.

One major setback is that Malaysia is importing nearly 60 per cent of the food it needs, making it highly vulnerable to food shortages causing food prices to escalate and a weak Ringgit aggravates the situation because food imports are transacted in foreign currencies.

Food insecurity is the result of a lack of emphasis on food production for decades as Malaysia focused on various forms of ‘developments’ thereby neglecting agricultural policies.

In December 2021, Cameron Highlands Malay Growers Association, Datuk Syed Abd Rahman Syed Abd Rashid, claimed in a news report that vegetable prices cannot be set by any vegetable trader but by cartels.

He cited the Selayang Wholesale Market as an example, adding that anyone selling below the price would be shunned by other traders and eventually fellow traders will find ways to force the person out of the market.

Has the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) checked on the claim? It is a very serious allegation because it shows that food prices are manipulated by cartels.

We urge the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) to fulfil its obligations to enhance the marketing of agricultural produce, to maximise returns to the farmers, and give value to consumers.

FAMA should be participating in the distribution mechanism to make it more efficient rather than leaving it to the middlemen to fill in that role. Till now FAMA has generally failed in its endeavour.

We also call upon the government to do away with Approved Permits (APs) for essential goods because such a monopoly can lead to an increase in prices as a result of profiteering by AP holders. By doing away with the APs, there will be healthy competition in the market.


Mohideen Abdul Kader
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)

Letter to the Editor, 27 April 2022

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