Prices of Saudi dairy and juice products went up by 15-40 per cent in Bahrain yesterday due to a reported increase in production costs.

Juice prices increased by nearly 15pc, while milk, cheese, and cream went up by 18-40pc.

A copy of a ‘market alert’ issued by Saudi multinational company Almarai and obtained by the GDN states that the prices have been increased “due to a significant increase in the cost of producing products”.

In September Saudi companies had raised milk, laban, and yoghurt prices following a Saudi Cabinet decision to scrap 50pc subsidies for dairy companies.

At the time, the GDN had reported that Bahraini companies were ramping up production to meet the local demand. Ebrahim Zainal, chairman of Awal Dairy, a subsidiary of Trafco Group, had then assured consumers that the prices of all its dairy products would remain the same.

However, he told the GDN yesterday that the company had yet to make a decision following the latest development.

“On the international market, the cost of all the ingredients such as milk, butter, sugar, concentrates, packaging materials, and so on have increased,” he said.

“This has been going on for the last 12 to 15 years.

“Naturally, local producers have no choice but to pass this on to the consumers; we depend on imported ingredients.

“So far we have made no decision.”

According to the Almarai alert to traders, a 200ml container of fruit juice will cost 150 fils, up from 130 fils, and a 1.5-litre container will cost 900 fils, up from 800 fils.

The highest price increase among Almarai dairy products has been slapped on cheese – a 100gm portion will now cost 400 fils instead of 318 fils – with milk following closely behind with a 37pc price increase.

Full fat milk (150ml) now costs 250 fils, up from 180 fils. Condensed milk, cheddar cheese, whipping and cooking creams, and butter have all seen price increases of 32pc, 23pc, 24pc, and 18pc, respectively.

“We have received the new price list and we have to follow that, we don’t know the actual reason,” said an expat businessman who owns a supermarket in Bahrain.

Almarai representatives could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, people have voiced concerns over the additional burden coupled with Value Added Tax (VAT) going up from 5pc to 10pc from January 1.

“The smallest of increases in prices especially on items like milk and butter which are essentials will make a big impact on an average family,” said a Bahraini woman.

“The pandemic has left many jobless and with salary cuts, only the prices are going up not the salaries and it is getting difficult.”

Earlier this month, Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Alzayani told MPs that the global sea freight crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic were responsible for the increase in food prices in Bahrain.

“I asked around and one of the managers told me that the decision by the Saudi companies was taken in August itself,” Bahrain Chamber resources and food committee chairman Khalid Al Amin told the GDN.

“I don’t find any good reason for this price increase especially at a time when the consumers are not ready for it.

“I hope that they review the prices.”

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