x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Rate of food-price increases curbed in run-up to Ramadan

Government efforts to control food prices increases in the run-up to Ramadan have borne fruit.

DUBAI // Curbs on food prices in the run-up to Ramadan appear to have worked.

The cost of fresh food rose last month - but by a much smaller amount than in June, according to the Dubai Fresh Food Price Index compiled by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Overall increases for fruit, vegetables, fish, seafood and meat in the emirate averaged 0.9 per cent, compared with 3.9 per cent in June.

"Price increases have slowed down, albeit still increased," said Dr Belaid Rettab, senior director of the chamber's economic research and sustainable business development sector.

"This could have been due to the Government's efforts to control food price rises ahead of the holy month of Ramadan."

The Ministry of Economy urged retailers to keep prices down in the lead-up to Ramadan, and inspectors are touring the country to monitor prices.

The index figures, which are published each month, reveal that the cost of fish and seafood rose by 8.9 per cent last month. This followed a rise of 8.5 per cent in June.

Vegetables cost 3.3 per cent more in July than they did in June, while fruit prices fell by 4.3 per cent, and meat cost 1.3 per cent less. The fall in fruit prices was attributed to increased supply.

"The increase in fresh fish and seafood prices is a seasonal observation," added Dr Rettab. "During the summer months, the prices of these food types rise, mainly due to lower volumes of fish catch.

"Fresh fruit is seasonal, and at the moment it is harvest season for many fruit varieties in source countries."

The chamber also publishes figures showing the year-on-year changes in prices. These revealed that in July, the overall cost of fresh food was up 5.2 per cent compared with the same month last year. The biggest year-on-year rise was in the cost of vegetables, which increased 13.1 per cent, while fish and seafood were up 5.2 per cent, meat rose by 2.5 per cent and fruit by 0.6 per cent.

There was a particularly large increase in the cost of tomatoes both month-on-month - a rise of 15.1 per cent - and year-on-year, up 32.3 per cent.

Most tomatoes are imported, and the large increases were said to be the result of variations in global production levels and demand.

The figures come against a backdrop of rising and volatile global food prices. The latest statistics from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation show its food price index hovering just below the all-time high set in February this year.

The figures come against a backdrop of rising and volatile worldwide food prices.

The latest statistics from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation show its food price index at 234 points, just below the all-time high of 238 points set in February this year.

csimpson@thenational.ae