Sep 06 2012
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Home food production can prevent price spike
JEDDAH: Citizens and expatriates have voiced their concern over local traders raising the prices of food items, citing reports of the possibility of a global food crisis.
They say that some commodity prices have been raised. Some imported chicken brand prices have increased in the local market by SR 5 a carton. Some other brand prices have increased by 10 percent.
Prices of most imported chicken brands increased in the last few days. An 800-gram box of frozen Brazilian chicken has jumped to SR 127 from SR 107 whereas the 900 and 1,000 gram boxes increased to SR 130 and SR 140 from their previous prices of SR 112 and SR 120 respectively.
Economists speculate that if a global food crisis were to occur, it would happen by the beginning of 2013 with price hikes ranging between 7 percent and 10 percent. Experts expect prices to increase first in Arab countries, most of which are dependent on imports to meet 70 percent of their food requirements, according to the Arab League's Agricultural Development Organization.
The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry's board member Abdullah Bin Mahfouz said that current situation created a confounding climate for importers and distributors of foodstuff in the local market. He said he feared some would exploit the situation.
He called on the authorities to intervene and reassure markets and curb the continuing price hikes in some food items. Such commodities have been unstable lately, a phenomenon attributed to the instability of currency values and the increase in global prices, he said.
The ripple effect of global food prices on the local market can be reduced through developing local production, overcoming obstacles hindering it, establishing domestic foodstuff industries, reducing dependence on imports and implementing foreign agricultural investments and investing in agricultural projects abroad, he added.
He said Saudi Arabia's experience in producing diary products, fruit juices, rearing poultry and producing confectionery items is considered a success in many ways and that success could be the base for achieving food security and price control.
Refat Mahmoud, salesman at a Jeddah store, said prices used to be stable after Ramadan (during Ramadan they increase temporarily) but this year some food commodity prices have increased definitively, especially imported goods.
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