UAE food price up and set to rise further


Food prices continued their rapid increase in the UAE in February to match a price crisis that has jolted many countries and triggered warnings by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about possible crises.

Vegetarians in the UAE were the main victim of the price rise as vegetables recorded the largest increases in February, followed by fish and meat, according to new monthly figures by the Ministry of Economy.

While the price of cleaning agents declined slightly and those of a handful of other items stabilised, most foodstuffs and other essential items recorded a sharp price increase in February compared to January.

Cucumber prices leapt by nearly 49 per cent while there was an increase of around 35 per cent in the price of cabbage and 28 per cent jump in tomato prices.

Eggplants were another victim of soaring inflation rates in the UAE, surging by 25 per cent in February while there was an increase of between 7-10 per cent in the prices of lemon and garlic, the Ministry consumer price figures showed.

The report noticed modest price increases in parsley and beans and a decline in the prices of red onion, potatoes and carrots.

Rice prices, which have soared globally, swelled by around eight per cent in the UAE in February while the prices of sugar and corn cooking oil grew by between nine and 12 per cent. There were small increases in the prices of bottled water, tea bags and small flour bags. The price of bread remained almost stable.

In the fish and meat category, prawns recorded the highest price rise, surging by around 14 per cent in February. There were price increases of between three and 12 per cent for other meat and fish products, the report showed. Prices of most dairy products also recorded increases of between one and eight per cent while the price of a handful of other dairy items stabilised. High food prices and surging rents have been blamed for soaring inflation rates in the UAE and other Gulf states but some of them have taken measures to curb the increase.

Experts believe prices of most food items in the region will continue to rise this year to match a global price increase. Another key factor is that the UAE dirham and other Gulf currencies are pegged to the US dollar, which makes imports from foreign markets, excluding the United States, costlier.

Imports satisfy more than 90 per cent of the total food needs for the UAE and its regional partners in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The UAE’s farm imports totalled around Dh35 billion between 2005 and 2007, mostly from India, Pakistan, the US, France and other Western countries.
Picture by Patrick Castillo