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Bahrain food price crisis 'ends'

Manama, October 19, 2010

Tomato prices in Bahrain which more than doubled as a result of a pest which destroyed crops and created a national crisis in Jordan have finally dropped.

Thousands of tonnes were ruined as a result of a killer 'moth' that forced the world's third largest producer to spend 1.7 million Jordanian dinars (BD910,000) on a crisis package.

Prices of the staple foodstuff shot up from around 600 fils to BD1.500 in Bahrain as a result of shortages in the market.

But they have started to drop due to the import of large quantities of tomatoes from Asia, confirmed Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro as he toured the Central Market in Manama and Mega Mart supermarket.

He pledged officials would continue to monitor any irregularities that may arise and affect consumers.

'Prices are due to decrease by 50 per cent, due to a large arrival of tomatoes from India and Yemen,' said Central Market trader Redha Al Bustani yesterday.

'While food prices across Bahrain have fluctuated between 1 per cent and 3 per cent, the quality and outsourcing of tomatoes from different countries had affected the price of this staple vegetable.'

Businessmen said prices for other commodities had also fluctuated, with sugar decreasing by 1 per cent and oil increasing by as much.

Al Bustani also confirmed a decrease in price of other fruit and vegetables by 40 per cent, with onions dropping by 20 per cent and potatoes by 30 per cent.

A General Trading and Food Processing Company spokesman said the store had already experienced a drop in prices in the last one week.

Pressure

'The shortage of tomatoes in Jordan caused prices to rise enormously, to BD4.800 per box as the crop was killed off at temperatures of 48C,' he said.

'But now we have found tomatoes from outside such as Syria, Lebanon and the Indian market where the temperature is coming down and prices have reduced to BD2.800 per box,' he added.

Al Jazira Supermarket general manager Harry Crumpton said the company was doing everything it could to reduce the costs to consumers.

'There is a lot of pressure on commodities and fishing and we try to combat this by importing produce that cannot be obtained from the local market, to offer Bahrain's customers an alternative,' he said.

Midway Supermarket chief executive officer Khalid Al Amin said prices depended on the weather conditions in the country of origin, availability and any shortages.

'The rise in tomato prices was due to the virus in Jordan which affected supply and demand,' he said.

Tomatoes from Jordan can still be found in stalls at the Central Market, Manama, but the quality varies hugely and stalls are offering unripe products from Syria and Lebanon.

One stall holder was struggling to sell his crate of Jordanian tomatoes for BD4.500.

'It is very expensive now, it should be cheaper to buy from the Middle East as transport from Lebanon, Syria or Jordan is not as expensive,' he said.

'But it is not and instead we have had to search further for better quality tomatoes, mainly from Turkey,' he added.

'This change of season and availability from India and Yemen will make it easier for us to sell our produce now.'-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Vegetables | Fruits | Food prices |

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