TTDI food trader determined to keep prices reasonable despite rising costs

Malaysia’s food inflation, which is expected to remain on the upward trend in the coming weeks, have forced many food traders to increase their prices.

One such trader in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, however, is determined to keep his customers happy by keeping his meals affordable.

Khairul Azhar Abdul Mutalib, who operates ‘Ayam Goreng Kunyit Paduu’ in Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, says he is able to cope despite making less profit these days.

“I understand that times are hard for a lot of people. The price of goods is rising each day,” said Khairul Azhar.

“I do what I can to keep my prices low.”

Khairul Azhar has been selling turmeric-flavoured chicken, beef, prawn, and squid with rice, since 2017.

His rice, with chicken, vegetables and onions, go for RM7 each, while beef and squid sets are available at RM8. Those who prefer prawns, pay RM9. An additional RM1 is charged for a fried egg to accompany any of the dishes.

Khairul Azhar admitted it was not easy to maintain his prices following the price hikes in recent weeks.

“I had to revise my prices by RM1 earlier this year, but my sets remain affordable, and despite chicken prices increasing twice this year, I have not cut down on the chicken portions,” said the 40-year-old.

“Instead, I have slightly reduced the number of vegetables in each dish. Vegetables are also expensive, with long beans going for RM12 a kilogramme.”

The ceiling price for standard chicken is RM8.90 per kg, but consumers have seen prices go up to RM13 per kg. The price hike is said to be due to low supply, and expensive chicken feed.

Khairul Azhar shared that the reason he is able to keep his prices low is that he buys meat and seafood in bulk, as he has three other outlets – in Sri Hartamas, Mutiara Damansara, and Damansara.

“Before Covid-19, I used to sell three barrels of rice each day. It dropped to one, during the various lockdowns due to the pandemic,” said Khairul Azhar, better known as Aroll to his customers.

“But business began picking up recently, as more people returned to the office.

“Now, I am up to two barrels of rice a day, sometimes a little more. I know if I can maintain my prices, the customers will keep on coming.

“The more customers I have, the easier it would be to keep the prices in check.”

Khairul Azhar, from Pekan Selama in Kedah, said the turmeric recipe is his own, with “northern” influences.

“I am from Kedah, so the dishes have a northern twist. I improved the recipe with my special blend of spices.”

Khairul Azhar also had some advice for youths who want to venture into business.

“Start small. Look for something that does not require a huge capital,” said Khairul Azhar, who has a central kitchen in Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur.

“If possible, do not take a bank loan. When I started, I only had one stall. Now, I have four. It took time to build up my brand, but with the right determination, you can go a long way,” he added.

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