Commerce Minister To Consider 2-Baht Price Hike for Instant Noodles

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has asked the Internal Trade Department to consider instant noodle makers’ petition to raise prices.

“Whether to allow the manufacturers of instant noodles to increase their prices will rest on the decision of the Internal Trade Department which will later study and analyse their production costs,” he stated.

However, he insisted earlier that the 2-baht price increase per serving was too high.

Speaking at Government House on Tuesday, Mr. Jurin answered reporters’ questions about manufacturers’ request to increase instant noodles’ retail price from 6 baht to 8 baht. He said a 2-baht increase is too high and would hit low-income people too hard.

Instant noodles appear on the Commerce Ministry’s price control list, as they are considered essential products.

Mr. Jurin was also asked if a one-baht increase would be acceptable, and he said that the Internal Trade Department would investigate the cost of producing the goods. However, he requested officials to allow a realistic increase that only reflects the actual expense if a raise is necessary.

The impact on consumers must be minimal but ensure that operators survive and do not face losses that force them to suspend production or export all their products to foreign markets with higher prices, he stated.

“Consumers must continue to have access to instant noodles,” Mr. Jurin, who also serves as deputy prime minister, added.

The Commerce Minister’s comments came after instant noodle makers had been calling for price increases for nearly two years. The Internal Trade Department had put the plan on hold for approval while it conducted a study into its possible effect on consumers, Mr. Jurin added.

The essential food already faced a price increase 14 years ago. In 2008, a proposal was approved to raise the price from 5 to 6 baht per pack.

However, manufacturers have requested a further price hike, citing increases in production costs. Higher prices for energy, electricity, transport, gas and raw materials such as vegetable oil and wheat have had an impact on manufacturing expenses.

Mr. Jurin said he was aware of the situation but insisted: “I have laid down my policy, that if costs fall then prices must decrease accordingly.”

He also stated that the department was ready to consider manufacturers’ petition to increase instant noodles’ price, but the approval might vary based on each company’s costs.

On Monday, the makers behind the five biggest instant noodle brands – Mama, Wai Wai, Yum Yum, Nissin, and Suesat – teamed up for the first time in decades to demand a price increase from the ministry.

Pun Paniangvait, the manager of the president’s office at Thai President Foods Plc, the manufacturer behind Mama instant noodles, said the five brands planned to submit a jointly signed letter asking for their products’ price to increase from 6 baht to 8 baht per package from now on.