With Hong Kong inflation levels hitting 7.9 per cent in July, everyone is feeling the pinch. But it appears that residents of Tung Chung town, the one closest to Hong Kong International Airport, are the ones who pay more than those living elsewhere.

Wet market in Hong Kong. Photo credit:

A survey conducted by the Federation of Trade Unions looked at prices of certain commodities at wet markets in relatively new towns of Ma On Shan, Tung Chung, Tin Shui Wai and Tseung Kwan O. For a basket of items consisting of cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, beef and pork, it cost HK$88.50 (US$11.35) in Tung Chung while the same amount of ingredients costs HK$81 in Ma On Shan and Tin Shui Wai. Tseung Kwan O turned out to be the least expensive among the four, where cost of the said vegetables and meat is HK$80.50.

The group blamed The Link, a real estate investment firm and owner of only two wet markets in Tung Chung, for rising food prices. The federation says The Link keeps increasing rents of stalls inside wet markets by around 20 to 30 per cent, a cost that customers will ultimately bear through rising costs of goods.

When asked for comments regarding the study results, a spokeswoman for The Link rejected suggestions that it should bear responsibility for surging food costs, and cited logistics and wages as main drivers that pushed up prices.

“We regret that the organisation didn’t collaborate with a university on the study, which requires some standard in sampling and approach,” she said. Do we need a university to prove this group is partly responsible for rising costs if it really imposed excessive raises on rent on vendors?

With such mindset of The Link, there’s no wonder the federation is calling on the government to build more wet markets to be managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. While The Link owns two of the only wet markets in Tung Chung, it doesn’t control all markets in Tin Shui Wai (only six of seven) and Tseung Kwan O (six of 11), a possible reason for cheaper costs of food on these areas.

Sadly, it has been a similar story with developers inflating the value of flats so buyers need to fork out more money to buy them and landlords increasing rents so shops either look to move elsewhere or are forced to shutdown business.

The situation outside wet markets portray the same story. McDonald’s recently stated that it is raising its prices in Hong Kong because of rising rental rates and cost of ingredients. I wonder how its Big Macs will stack against counterparts, a couple of years after The Economist proclaimed Hong Kong has the cheapest burgers.