Rice jumps by 20% as UAE faces more price surges - Emirates24|7

Rice jumps by 20% as UAE faces more price surges


Rice prices in the UAE rocketed by up to 20 per cent in the first four months of this year as the country faces a period of sustained surge in food costs given its heavy reliance on farm imports, according to official figures.

New figures by the Ministry of Economy showed the prices of nearly 100 consumer items have recorded relative stability over the past two months following agreements between the Ministry and some major marketing outlets to stabilise prices of many products, though dealers see it as a temporary measure.

Preliminary data from the Ministry's monthly consumer price index showed the prices of 17 basic goods swelled by between five and 17 per cent in April compared with March and by 10 to 18 per cent since the start of 2008. A breakdown showed India's Tilda Basmati rice shot up by nearly 20 per cent to Dh53.9 per five kilogrammes at the end of April from around Dh44.85 at the end of 2007.

The price of Rozana rice, another Indian brand grown exclusively in the Punjab region, soared by 17.7 per cent to Dh25 from Dh21.24. Pakistan's Mehran rice increased by nearly 10.7 per cent to Dh60 per 10kg from Dh54.48.

The Ministry's index for March-April showed bread was also on the rise, recording a 6.1 per cent growth to Dh2.6 per six-piece unit at the end of April from Dh2.45 at the end of March. The prices of many vegetables also continued to grow but the largest increase was in green beans, which leaped by around 17 per cent. Prices of pineapple from the Philippines jumped by 15 per cent. A food supplier said: "The increases in food prices in the UAE are normal considering the explosive food situation worldwide."

The Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development (AOAD), an affiliate of the Arab League, said the UAE's farm imports totalled around $3.115 billion (Dh11.43bn) in 2006, the second largest food importer in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) after Saudi Arabia.

Its exports and re-exports of such products stood at around $648 million, leaving a deficit of nearly $2.46bn. The gap is set to sharply grow in the coming years because of price rises, a steady population growth and the absence of major farm projects. It stood at only $1.6bn in 2000.

The figures showed cereal topped the UAE's import bill, with a value of $657m in 2006. Rice imports were estimated at $363m, while wheat stood at $240m and the rest covered barley and corn. Other key import bills included fruit at $533m, meat at $461m and diary products at around $396m, according to AOAD.

The surge in food prices has been cited as one of the main factors for soaring inflation rates in the UAE.