Goods at supermarkets plentiful with stable prices

Mr. Pham Thanh Kien, Director of the Department of Industry and Trade of Ho Chi Minh City, on March 10 chaired a meeting with the Food and Foodstuff Association and key enterprises on the emergency response plan for the Covid-19 outbreak and solutions to ensure the supply of goods in the city.
Shelves are full of instant noodles at a supermarket on March 10. (Photo: SGGP)
Shelves are full of instant noodles at a supermarket on March 10. (Photo: SGGP)
According to Ms. Nguyen Huynh Trang, Deputy Director of the Department of Industry and Trade of Ho Chi Minh City, after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, citizens have changed their habits from daily shopping to concentrated shopping. Especially, last weekend, the market saw the hoarding of essential food and foodstuffs, and supplies for the prevention of the disease, causing a local shortage of goods some time. During this period, some people took advantage of the complicated situation to increase the hoarding of goods, speculation, spreading false news and overcharging in an attempt to make profits, causing the market developments to become more chaotic.

‘Rumor has it that there is a shortage of goods. However, there is no scarcity of goods and shelves in supermarkets are empty because supermarkets’ employees did not put goods on shelves timely. The city can provide an increase from 50 to 100 percent of goods in case the disease develops more complicatedly, so citizens should be calm down when shopping and should not stockpile too many goods, causing the imbalance between supply and demand, and a waste of goods,’ Ms. Trang emphasized.

Mr. Tran Ngoc Trung, CEO of Vinh Phat Investment Joint Stock Company, one of the key rice suppliers for the city, said that the buying demand for rice at supermarkets jumped sharply in the past days. As for the Co.opmart supermarket chain alone, the company delivers 150 tons of rice every day. He said that despite strong purchasing power, his company’s inventory of rice remains at 50,000 tons of rice for both exporting and domestic consumption. However, if the demand continues to climb, the company will halt the export of rice to priority for the domestic market. Besides, the company has prepared a large number of raw materials to ensure adequate supply from now to the end of this year. If there is no large fluctuation in the global and domestic prices, the company will continue to keep its current selling prices.

Similarly, Ms. Bui Phuong Mai, Chairwoman of Vifon Company, said that when Vietnam confirmed the 17th Covid-19 case, the market’s purchasing power suddenly soared for instant products, even soup powder was bought all. Currently, the company decided to cancel export orders to focus resources on the domestic market. It also cooperates closely with Saigon Co.op to full provide goods for isolation areas of the city. At the same time, it has also stockpiled raw materials to ensure production in the next six months or a year later with stable prices.

As for livestock products, poultry meat, and eggs, enterprises also affirmed that the supply is plentiful and diverse and the price continues to be stable. Mrs. Pham Thi Huan, Director of Ba Huan Company said that the company has been developing sustainably from raw materials to consumption. Currently, the production of processed poultry products of the company increases by 100 percent with 2-3 shifts per day. As for poultry eggs, the company pledged to supply sufficiently, increase coverage on a large scale, and lower selling prices to stimulate consumer demand. Similarly, San Ha Company also said that the prices of poultry meat will continue to be stable until the end of this year thanks to plentiful and diverse supply. Vissan has also been speeding up its production progress to three shifts per day, at the same time, prepared fully raw materials for processing and producing until the end of this year.

Distribution channels have also collaborated closely with suppliers to prepare solutions to provide goods sufficiently for the shopping demand of people within 3-6 months with stable prices. The number of customers going shopping at supermarkets on March 10 remained slightly higher and tended to return to the normal level.

Mr. Dinh Quang Khoi, Head of the Marketing Office and Customer Service of MM Mega Market, said that the supermarket has mobilized all its staff to sell goods, at the same time, it has also extended its opening hours to 10 p.m. instead of 8.30 p.m. as usual. The supermarket has been monitoring if the shopping demand of customers in the evening keeps increasing, it will extend the opening hours to 11 p.m. Purchasing power in the past days increased by 40 percent but goods at supermarkets are plentiful and diverse. Control on quality and food safety is tightened for all types of goods. The company also requires all its employees to wear face masks and check body temperatures to ensure health safety for both employees and customers to the supermarket.

The representative of Saigon Co.op said that, since the outbreak of the Covid-19, Saigon Co.op always stockpiles a large number of goods, equal to the amount it stored for the last lunar New Year. The supermarket has prepared a large amount of rice, instant noodles, water, canned food, milk, hand sanitizers, face masks, tissue paper, and household cleaning products. Among these products, specific products for the prevention of respiratory diseases, such as hand sanitizers and face masks are paid special attention and always ready to pump for outlets of the supermarket.

Besides, the supermarket also ensures the opening hours at more than 800 outlets. Some places even only close when the last customer finishes shopping; Cheers convenience stores open all week. It also strengthens selling goods through telephone and its e-commerce website to create the best conditions for customers to do shopping.

Other supermarkets, namely Aeon, Lotte Mart, and Big C, have also increased the stocking of goods and stabilized their selling prices in the long term.

Mr. Pham Thanh Kien highly appreciated the effort of producers and supermarkets in providing goods to best meet the buying demand of citizens. In fact, the city had predicted a possible sudden increase in buying demand due to concerns over the disease. He added that in the next three months, producers and distributors should not be subjective because the purchasing power is difficult to forecast so they need to continue to cooperate closely to ensure the production and stockpiling rates on both shelves and warehouses. During the production process, enterprises need to prioritize goods for the domestic market before producing goods for exporting. This is also an opportunity for enterprises to show their prestige, increase their brands, and conquer the domestic consumers, aiming at sustainable development.

He affirmed that if any outlet is found to overcharge consumers, its supply contracts will be canceled immediately. The Department of Industry and Trade will collaborate with relevant departments to uncover and punish people who collect and hoard goods to create a local shortage of goods to raise selling prices and cause market disruption.

At the meeting, enterprises said that they have been facing several difficulties so the city needs to have solutions to reduce tax, extend bank debts, dismiss the regulation on electricity peak hour pricing, and facilitate the clearance of goods quickly and effectively.

Regarding these matters, Mr. Kien said that the department sent an official dispatch to the Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee on February 28 to propose solutions to solve difficulties in capital, tax, social insurance, electricity price and raw materials for enterprises. The department also proposed the People’s Committee to ask the Government to instruct the State Bank of Vietnam to have credit policies, giving preferential interest rates for signed or new contracts, extending debts for contracts that are due from March this year upwards; instruct the Ministry of Finance to extend the time for tax payment and reduce tax for some sectors this year, for instance, a cut of 5 percent in value-added tax, a reduction of 50 percent in corporate income tax, and a decrease of 50 percent in import tariff.

As for granting permission for vehicles to circulate during rush hours, Mr. Kien asked enterprises to make a list of vehicles and routes to submit the municipal People’s Committee for its consideration.

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