Kava price gradually increasing
By Josepheen Tarianga.
Port Vila is in its second week of lockdown, and many kava vendors and consumers have already noticed changes in kava prices over the last week.
Many nakamals in the capital get the kava supplied to customers from other islands. These are often sent over by ship and bought leisurely in small bulks so the kava is always fresh. This has changed greatly for many Nakamal owners and kava vendors.
For one, many Nakamals have closed to the public due to the community outbreak and where only a few are open, the kava is sold as takeaway.
This means kava stock is bought in much bigger bulks as there is no guarantee that transport will be available consistently in the coming days.
In addition, some nakamal owners have had to switch suppliers and mixes for their kava while maintaining their prices.
All the Nakamal owners and kava vendors that have spoken with Daily Post all share that the price of kava per kilogram has definitely increased.
The Seal Team Kava Bar at Independence park is among the few bars that provide takeaway kava. Kava vendor, Wilma Hake, said the Nakamal serves kava from Santo. Previously, this was sent by ship in smaller bulks but, that has changed.
“The cost used to be VT800 per kg, but now we have to pay for airfare so it has gone up to VT1,000,” she said.
“We used to get 60kg supply every two days, but now since we don’t know if we will keep having suppliers. We have now brought in 200kg of kava at a total cost of VT200,000. By Saturday, this supply will be depleted.”
Mrs. Hake states that to ensure she does not make a loss, she has increased the amount of water in each mix of kava.
The Seal Team Nakamal has seen consistent business during the lockdown as people order takeaway kava daily.
Ronnie’s Nakamal has adopted the same takeaway only rule for kava, and the vendors have had to switch their suppliers to only Santo and Port Vila suppliers. Where the Kava Price Ronnie’s had with its kava suppliers was around VT500 per kg before, this has now increased to VT800 or VT1,000 max.
“The Nakamal maintains the same prices for its consumers and business is good,” a kava vendor at Ronnie’s Nakamal shared.
“I think it is because only a few nakamals are doing takeaway. Only one person is allowed on the premises to get kava.”
The Dash Studio Natangura Nakamal is also now a takeaway kava spot. Michael Levu is a kava vendor there. Levu attested that he has had to switch his suppliers for kava from Santo to Port Vila, Teouma Valley where he always gets 12kg fresh kava daily.
“I pay for VT800 per kg if I go and pick up my kava, but if they come and drop it off, I have to pay VT 1,000,” he said.
“That is now the norm. By 6pm each day, all my kava is gone. I still sell 1.5 liters of kava for VT1,000 so business hasn’t changed much, other than prices for kava.”
For now, the nakamal owners are hanging in there and are finding ways to make profit, how long that will last is anyone’s guess.