Hongkongers will now have to pay even more for beef, after the city's sole mainland beef distributor Ng Fung Hong announced its sixth wholesale price increase in the year.
With effect from today, the wholesale price per kilogram will go up by HK$4.3 to HK$67.9 for regular beef and by HK$3.8 to HK$71.3 for premium beef.
The 5.64 to 6.76 per cent rise comes five days after the Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the government would investigate whether to open up to competition the supply of fresh beef from the mainland to slow soaring prices.
With the latest increase, the retail price of beef is expected to go up to more than HK$100 per catty (604 grams).
Ng Fung Hong said the increase was necessary as supply was strained ahead of the hotpot season and bad weather in parts of the mainland also contributed to the shortage last weekend. It denied the frequent price rises were a result of its market monopoly, saying the company's gross profit margin was only 6 per cent.
Chow Tak, vice-chairman of the Kowloon Beef and Mutton Merchants Association, said business had deteriorated since the year's first price rise in April.
"People switch to pork, chicken or fish, because beef is too expensive," he said. "They don't even 'give face' to the government. Ko said [earlier] they would consider opening up the market, and now [Ng Fung Hong is] increasing the price."