UAE freezes prices of essential food including rice, milk and meat

Cooperative societies and other key shopping outlets in the UAE are planning to slash prices of many consumer items this year as part of a Dh200-million initiative announced by authorities to curb any price rise.

The ministry of economy, which is spearheading the campaign, said 157 new consumer items have just been added to the list included in the price stability initiative, raising to more than 700 the total number of products which will not see any price hikes until the end of 2011.

The new items include Basmati rice, milk powder, meat, frozen chicken, tea, juices and bottled water, olive oil, salt, soap, garbage bags and other products.

“The items included in the list targeted by the price stability initiative now exceed 700 compared with around 400 at the start of the month,” said Hashim Al Nuaimi, director of the consumer protection division at the ministry of economy.

Quoted by local Arabic language dailies on Monday, he said these products would be available at 72 cooperative societies and other supermarkets in 88 shopping outlets covering most parts of the UAE.

“We are now awaiting three more initiatives by the cooperative societies including discounts of between 20 and 50 per cent, sale of some items at cost price and sale at purchasing price…we expect to receive these initiative next week and in July and they will remain valid until the end of this year.”

In remarks early this month, Nuaimi said the price stabilization initiative would be enforced by major shopping outlets through the UAE as they will display the “fixed price” logo on all the products included in the price campaign.

Inspectors from the ministry will be deployed through the market to ensure all outlets comply with the initiative, which the ministry says is intended to ease the financial burden on consumers and curb persistent market manipulations.

The initiative, the first of its kind in the Arab world, means that the prices of more than 700 key consumer items will remain unchanged through 2011 no matter what direction these prices takes worldwide.

“This initiative is the largest to be taken by the UAE concerning consumer prices…it will cost us around Dh200 million and is meant to stabilize the market and protect domestic consumers,” Nuaimi said.

“We have already informed all major shopping outlets not to raise the prices of these products until the end of the year and to make sure there will be enough supplies for the consumers…the items included in this initiative account for at least 50 per cent of the needs of consumers.”

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