Premier announces probe into ‘serious’ coffee price hike issue

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–The government has announced it is going to investigate a recent steep increase in the retail prices of coffee, following the lead of Taipei.

During an interpellation session at the Legislature on Friday, Oct. 7, Premier Wu Den-yih called the prices hikes a “serious matter,” saying he had asked the competent authorities to get a handle on it. Taiwan’s convenience stores and coffee houses have announced increases in the prices of their freshly brewed coffee, but the Consumers’ Foundation is questioning whether the hikes are just another excuse to milk consumers for increase revenues.

The Chinese-language China Times reported that the wave of price increases, led by Starbucks and followed by convenience chains 7-Eleven, Hi-Life, and FamilyMart, would add at least NT$5 to each cup of coffee costing as little as NT$40, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 5. A lawmaker complained that the when the price of a whole bottle of milk has increased by NT$5 only, the NT$5 increase in a cup of coffee is not justifiable, because there is not a whole bottle of milk in it. Wu chimed in, saying the increase was not reasonable. Manufacturers should see that unreasonable prices hikes could force consumers to purchase less or switch to other brands or cheaper replacement products, Wu continued, adding, the businesses should bear in mind the possible consequences.

According to Wu, the Executive Yuan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has started monitoring the situation, but there is no guarantee that the manufacturers will comply with its orders to roll back the price hikes. Meanwhile, the country’s four major convenience store chains have remained defiant, claiming the price increase reflects an increase in costs.