x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Price freezes aim to curb UAE inflation

Fathima Supermarket fixed the prices of 30 basic commodities yesterday, as the Government reported soaring food inflation figures and consumers baulked at the increased cost of their weekly shop.

Fathima Supermarket yesterday fixed the prices of 30 basic commodities, as the Government reported soaring food inflation and consumers baulked at the increased cost of their weekly shop.

The supermarket chain, which has 15 stores throughout Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, agreed with the Ministry of Economy to keep prices stable until the end of the year for items such as flour, rice, breakfast cereals and tea.

"We have fixed the prices in all our stores today. The price has been checked for all our branches in 2012," said Fazal Valiyaveetil, the purchasing manager at Fathima. "I do not think food inflation will now be a problem because prices are being controlled by the Ministry [of Economy]."

Despite widespread intervention by the Government in controlling the price of food in the past 18 months, inflation figures released yesterday by Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi (Scad) showed a 0.7 per cent increase in consumer prices in January and last month, compared with the same period in the previous year, driven by the rising cost of food.

The highest price increases were across meats, which were up by 12.3 per cent, followed by coffee, tea and cocoa, up 8.4 per cent. Fish prices rose 6.9 per cent.

Fish sellers at the Abu Dhabi Fishermen's Cooperative Society, near the Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, said the prices of all types of catch had risen in the past year.

"Suppliers say there is less fish being caught at sea," said Ronald Vergara, a cashier at the fish market.

"We have a lot of customers on Friday and Saturday, even for the expensive fish, but less customers in the week."

In the past six months, the cost of hammour has increased from Dh28 (US$7.62) per kilogram to Dh47 and sherry from Dh22 to Dh33, Mr Vergara said. "People are now buying less hammour and sherry [fish]," said Mr Vergara.

The prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages actually decreased 1.2 per cent last month compared with January, according to Scad.

At Fathima stores in Abu Dhabi, the price of chicken is currently Dh9.6 per kilo, olive oil is Dh13.5 per 500ml, tea costs Dh14.75 per 400 grams and basmati rice is Dh19.95 per kilo. Flour costs Dh14.95 per 10 kilos and Kellogg's corn flakes are Dh14.95 per box of 500g cereal.

Shoppers said they had noted an increase in food and household goods prices in the past year, with some complaining that the cost of the weekly shop had increased by 25 to 30 per cent.

"Prices have definitely gone up," said Freeda De Souza, a housewife shopping at Lulu Hypermarket.

"The fish is very expensive, and the meat. If you compare with six months ago, it was not cheap but it was not like this."

She said her weekly shop had doubled from Dh150 two years ago to Dh300 today and that most prices had increased 30 per cent in the past year.

Contrary to official figures, meat market traders in Abu Dhabi said their prices had not increased significantly in the past six months - by a maximum of Dh2 per kilo.

Ahmed Shahzad, a salesman at Nadeem Butchers, said the price of Pakistani and Indian mutton had been broadly stable, at Dh33 per kilo.

"There is a couple of dirhams difference, but no more than that," he said.