x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Prices stabilise after summer spike

A survey by The National finds the price of food in supermarkets has stabilised over the past two months.

Shoppers browse produce at the Carrefour in Marina Mall.
Shoppers browse produce at the Carrefour in Marina Mall.

ABU DHABI // The price of food in supermarkets has stabilised over the past two months after increasing significantly in early summer, a survey by The National has found. And while some food prices have continued to rise, some are falling. Still, prices generally have risen considerably in the past six months. Indian red onions continue to skyrocket, going up almost 200 per cent in half a year at the Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society at Abu Dhabi Mall, from 65 fils per kilogram to Dh1.75 (US$0.34).

The price has risen 20 fils in the past month. At Lulu in Al Wahda Mall, the price of onions rose 160 per cent since March to Dh1.95 a kilogram. In Carrefour in Marina Mall, onions increased in price by 38.5 per cent in the past month alone, and almost 70 per cent in six months, to Dh2.70 a kilogram. Elsewhere, there appears to be little consistency, with many prices differing significantly from supermarket to supermarket.

Beef tomatoes from Holland rose by 48.1 per cent in Carrefour in six months, and 15.4 per cent in the past month, from Dh15.50 per kilogram to Dh22.95. However, in Lulu, the price dropped from Dh23.95 per kilogram to Dh13.95 in six months - a reduction of 41.8 per cent. Filipino bananas in Lulu rose from Dh3.95 a kilogram to Dh4.45, in only six months. But the same product in the Co-op fell in price, albeit by only five fils, to Dh3.90 per kilogram.

Other prices that fell in the past month include those for locally produced cucumbers at Carrefour, although they still cost 70 per cent more now than in March. The price of a six-pack of Lutein Golden Eggs and of Filipino bananas at Carrefour also fell. Last month, Dr Hashem al Nuaimi, manager of the Ministry of Economy's consumer protection department, said the ministry would check to make sure that shops did not increase their prices substantially during Ramadan.

Shops in Sharjah were warned that they risked fines if they did not abide by price caps on certain products agreed with the Government earlier this year. A shopping basket at Abu Dhabi Co-op increased by an average 18.2 per cent over the past six months, with the equivalent at Carrefour up 16 per cent and at Lulu by only 5.6 per cent. Foreign products rose an average 13.3 per cent. Prices for goods produced in the UAE, including eggs, milk and bottled water, rose 11.9 per cent since late March.

The rises noted by The National are above the average rate of food inflation elsewhere in the world. The British Retail Consortium said early last month that food prices had risen 8.3 per cent in the UK this year. The Emirates Society for Consumer Protection estimated that food inflation in the UAE could reach 40 per cent this year. Prices for a number of products jumped hugely in early summer, but have remained unchanged since.

A 12-pack of Jenan eggs, two litres of French-produced Lesieur cooking oil and Australian and Indian lamb have not changed since early July. The same applied to a 2.5 kilogram bag of Tilda basmati rice, which was unavailable in many shops during the summer but is now back on sale at the same price as before, around Dh31. @Email:rhughes@thenational.ae