GEORGE TOWN: With Chinese New Year approaching, preparations for the celebration have started in earnest with people storing up vital ingredients for family reunion dinners.

Having experienced logistical restrictions from China during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, shops are now more prepared and have stocked up to meet the demands ahead of the festival which falls on Jan 22.

Cheng Woh Medical Hall owner Lee Xi Wen, 37, said he made early orders for his shop comprising 90% of items from China as delays are expected.

“Supply chain management is important, and we have built a good relationship with factories.

“Some of them have informed us of possible shortages while some reserved (items) for us in their warehouses.

“To ensure sufficient stock as Chinese New Year is celebrated early this year, we made our orders about two weeks earlier,” he said on Monday.

Lee said ingredients for cooking are the most popular and customers began flocking to his shop in Campbell Street right after Christmas.

“Only missing are the tourists from China who would also visit my shop to buy local pro- ducts.

“But with locals now recovering from the pandemic, I hope business this year will be better than pre-Covid-19 times,” he said.

Checks at several other shops selling traditional food items for Chinese New Year found that they were crowded with customers.

There are also those who are resilient in ensuring year-round supply.

Tuck Kee Dried Meat Shop owner Chong Han Yaw, 38, who inherited the business in Jalan Kuala Kangsar, said they had been producing about 20 types of dried meat products such as meat slices, sausages, as well as waxed duck and pork belly since 1979.

“By producing our own meats, we are certain of the quality and source of raw material. It is also easier for us to source locally,” he said.

Chong said that as production is under control, they only started to ramp up operations in December for Chinese New Year.

Meanwhile, it was reported that the price of pork for the festive period would be maintained.

Malaysia Pork Meat Traders’ Association chairman Chow Poh Yue said the price of the meat had been maintained since Dec 28 and it would stay until Jan 28.

“After negotiating with pig farmers, they have agreed to maintain the current farm price of RM1,380 per 100kg,” he said.

Chow said the retail price would, however, differ between states.

“Farmers would ensure sufficient supply of pork during the Chinese New Year period,” he said, adding that imported pork currently accounts for 30% of the market.