If there is a vow the faithful whisper as they queue for hours for the Chinese New Year must-have snack of bak kwa (barbecued pork), it would probably go: 'To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, to love and to cherish, we will part with $48 for every kilogram.'
Indeed, the economy this year is hardly sizzling, yet the price of traditional bak kwa has soared as in the past, up to $48 per kg.
Major vendors of the sweet meat that LifeStyle interviewed say there has been no let up in the crowds that throng their stores either.
Following a surge in demand, retailers commonly raise their prices in the four weeks leading up to the festive season by about $6 per kg.
For bak kwa chains Bee Cheng Hiang and Fragrance, the price of their traditional slices increased gradually this year from $43 per kg to $48 per kg, matching last year's high.
Similarly, Singapore's oldest bak kwa vendor Kim Hock Guan, which has three stores, raised its price earlier this month from $43 per kg to last year's record of $46 per kg.
At popular bak kwa seller Lim Chee Guan's two outlets in Chinatown - where customers brave the notorious hour-long queues every year - the price of its traditional slice at press time is $48 per kg, just a little shy of last year's $50 per kg. The demand for its sweet meat, however, remains overwhelming, and a 6kg cap on purchases had to be imposed last Tuesday.
Sellers are quick to clarify that the hike is not an attempt to cash in on the festive season.
A Bee Cheng Hiang spokesman says: 'If we can hold the retail price, we're more than happy to hold it, especially in the current economic condition. But our suppliers have raised prices, so we have no choice but to adjust accordingly.'
Mr C.T. Goh, 53, vice-president of the Meat Traders' Association, says that prices of frozen and...
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