The Rundown: High Food Costs, Rising Oil Prices, and Record Export Orders

A weekly snapshot of Taiwan business news stories brought to you by CommonWealth and AmCham Taiwan’s TOPICS

Inflation Hits Taiwan’s Restaurant Industry  

Taiwanese restaurant group Wowprime Corp. has announced that, starting from October 25, it will raise prices at its 15 restaurant establishments by around 5%. Wowprime, whose brands in Taiwan include popular spots like Tasty, Wang Steak, 12MINI, and Wagyu Shabu, cited the COVID-19 pandemic, surging prices internationally, and Taiwan’s increasing minimum wage as reasons for the price hike.

Over the past three months, restaurants have faced a sharp rise in food costs, with the price of American lettuce increasing by a shocking 118%, imported beef and pork by 37% and 15% respectively, and chicken by about 10%.

According to the Directorate-General of Budget, Account and Statistics, September’s Wholesale Price Index (WPI) rose 11.96% from the same month last year. Wu Da-ren, CEO of National Central University’s Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development, explained that the domestic WPI has exceeded 10% each month since March, reflecting the pressure faced by bulk commodity producers.

Gasoline Prices Hit Three-Year High 

On October 23, CPC Corp., Taiwan announced gasoline prices would rise this week by NT$0.6 (US$0.02) per liter and diesel prices by NT$0.6-0.7, marking their fourth consecutive week of increase. The change in price reflects fluctuations in oil prices globally. Following the increase, 95-octane unleaded gasoline will reach NT$31.6 (US$1.13) per liter, the highest price in nearly three years.

Rising oil prices are also due in part to the approaching winter season and increased demand for home heating, as well as the power shortages plaguing China and India, which have pushed up the price of natural gas and coal.

Export Orders Reach New Record

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) announced on October 20 that export orders reached a record US$62.9 billion last month, a growth of 25.7% from last year. The record marks the 19th consecutive month of export order growth. In the first nine months of this year export orders totaled a record US$481.63 billion, up 32.4% from the same period last year.

MOEA Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling estimated that export orders in October will value between US$63 billion and US$64.5 billion, indicating annual growth of 22.1% to 25%. Director Huang anticipates the export orders in the first 10 months of this year could exceed last year’s record high of US$533.66 billion.

The Department of Statistics noted that the record growth in export orders may be due in part to new smartphone product launches by international tech companies like Apple, coupled with a robust and dynamic consumer demand for emerging technologies. The strong market internationally for high-end raw materials is also driving demand for tech products, resulting in double-digit percentage growth for all categories of goods.

This edition was translated from the original Chinese by Grace Faerber.