Betelnut price increases

Lae News, Normal


A SEVERE shortage of betelnut has hit Lae, forcing prices to rise to their highest since the nationwide record of 1998.
In the past week, prices of betelnut have skyrocketed with the best nuts, once selling for 60 toea, now more than doubling in price.
Betlenut chewers in the city are now forking out K1.50 for a “mit buai” or choice nut while the lesser ones are going for 50 and 60 toea.
Wholesale vendor at Kamkumung market, Anton “Fivestar” Kaupa said they now had to travel to Madang, Wewak and Popondetta to purchase the goods.
“Once it cost us between K180 and K200 and we made a profit of about K100 for each (20kg) bag but now a bag costs us K350 to K400 and to be able to maintain the same profit we have to up the price.
Most times the betelnut we buy are not the choicest ones and we end up losing money,” Kaupa said.
He said the betelnut they bought from Popondetta sometimes stuffed with leaves and other material and because they were not allowed to fossick through the bags before buying, they returned to Lae and found that they had been cheated.
Because of the mark up in price, those who cannot kick the habit, find themselves venturing out to look for the nuts less often as they once did.