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Instant-noodle makers ask Thailand to allow price hikes

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Instant noodles are known worldwide as a cheap and easy meal. But the makers of five instant-noodle brands sold in Thailand said this week that they cannot keep their products as cheap as the Thai government wants.

With inflation looming, the Thai Commerce Ministry said in June it would maintain price caps on dozens of goods and services. To minimize the impact of rising prices on residents of the Southeast Asian kingdom. Consumer prices in Thailand rose 7.6 percent year-on-year in July, according to Moody’s Analytics.

However, on Monday, the maker of instant noodles under the Mama, Sue Sat, Wai Wai, Yam Yam and Nissin brands — the latter of which makes cup noodles and top ramen products — said it would seek permission from the Thai government to expand. Their prices are about a third lower, from 6 baht to 8 baht (about 23 cents), according to state media. Prices have been fixed at 6 baht for about 14 years.

Noodle makers said they were losing money by selling their products at lower prices, amid rising costs for ingredients and fuel, due in large part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Wheat futures were at $8 a bushel this month, down from about $12.50 in May, though still high by historical standards.

The makers said they will file their appeal on Tuesday. The Commerce Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on whether to allow the 2 baht increase, which is less than 6 cents. Senior ministry official Wattanasak Sur-Iam told Reuters in a statement that the government considers such requests on a case-by-case basis and that any change would benefit consumers and producers.

State media reported that if manufacturers do not approve their request, they will reduce their sales in Thailand and instead export their products free of the price cap. Many Western economists consider price caps an ineffective method of controlling inflation, although recent global inflation has prompted some to reconsider their usefulness.

Food prices continue to rise. Here’s how Americans are coping.

There are concerns about rising instant-noodle prices elsewhere in Asia, where the food is particularly ubiquitous. Indonesia’s agriculture minister warned this month that instant-noodle prices could triple under pressure on supply chains due to climate change and Russian aggression, CNBC Indonesia reported.

The war in Ukraine has sent food and fuel prices skyrocketing, with grocery prices in the United States this month up more than 12 percent from last summer. In some of the world’s poorest countries, experts say the war has worsened the hunger crisis. The UN World Food Program says a record 345 million people globally are food insecure or at high risk this year due to the Ukraine invasion and the coronavirus pandemic.

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