Food prices in the country are expected to drop by more than 50 per cent from April after the second phase of the Ministry of Economy's plan to reduce prices comes into effect, said a top official of the ministry.
Speaking to Emirates Business, Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the MoE's Consumer Protection Department, said: "Even now, prices are dropping on a daily basis and by April it will fall by more than 50 per cent."
The ministry's plan to reduce prices is in line with the general fall in the price of foodstuffs throughout the world, he said. Many outlets, dealers and importers had earlier justified not reducing the prices of their goods by citing the higher prices they had to pay while purchasing the goods earlier. This reason would no longer be valid, Al Nuaimi said.
"The MoE have given dealers, importers, top outlets and co-operative societies a chance to sell their wares at the old prices during the period from December last year up until end-March. This period is sufficient to clear their stocks of old goods they had bought at the higher prices.
"At present they are buying new foodstuffs at the low market rates that prevail internationally and they should reduce the selling prices of these goods accordingly for the public. The ministry will closely follow up on that," Al Nuaimi said.
Giving an example, he said a tonne of milk powder used to be sold in the international wholesale market at $4,800 (Dh17,630) from its countries of origin. At present that price has come down to $1800. This reduction needs to be passed on to local customers.
Al Nuaimi said the MoE will soon sign agreements with importers, dealers and top outlets such as Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket and the co-operative societies, to bring further reduction of prices into effect. The MoE has already spoken to these establishments a few days ago, advising them to make a list of the new reduced prices.
"Commodities will be sold at rates that are around equal to the prices in their countries of origin. The MoE is keeping regular track of changes in the prices of commodities and foodstuff in the international market. It is also being informed of the cost of transport, operations and all production components," Al Nuaimi said.
He said the MoE's plan to reduce prices is being implemented in four phases.
"The first phase was implemented around a month ago. We succeeded in reducing some prices by 20 per cent. The second phase is due to start on April 1, when prices will be reduced by more than 50 per cent. The third and fourth phases will be implemented later this year for even bigger price reductions. The aim is to reduce prices to the level where they match global prices."