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Thai instant noodle makers petitioned the government on Tuesday to let them raise retail prices for the first time in 14 years, saying higher production costs have cut their returns.
Instant noodles have long been a staple for low-income households and are among Thailand’s controlled goods because of their importance. Their standing has only increased with inflation hovering at a 14-year high.
The five domestic producers have been selling their benchmark packs for 6 baht (US$0.17) each since 2008. The companies are seeking to raise the retail price to 8 baht (US$0.23) to meet rising costs, said Pun Paniangvait, a senior manager representing Thai President Foods Pcl, which produces the Mama brand.
“None of us wants to sell at higher prices since it’s already highly competitive to sell at 6 baht per pack,” Pun said, after submitting a letter on behalf of all five firms to the Commerce Ministry on Tuesday. “But we all agree that costs that have already risen will not go down this time.”
The companies have been selling the basic instant noodles at a loss in the Thai market for months, as wheat and palm oil prices have surged since the Russia-Ukraine war began, he said. Thailand doesn’t produce enough of those two commodities, so it relies heavily on imports.
There are multiple categories of instant noodles. Those at the most basic level are highly controlled by the government by law, but noodle makers have often gotten around controls by introducing new products, especially those in premium categories.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha told reporters after the weekly Cabinet meeting that the issue “needs to be jointly considered and discussed.”
Unless the request is approved, the five Thai producers, which also include Thai Preserved Food Factory Co., Wan Thai Foods Industry and a local affiliate of Japan’s Nissin Foods Holdings Co., will have to export more of their noodles to offset losses in the home market, Pun said.
“We’ll have to keep asking until they agree with us,” he said.