Prices plea to food traders in Bahrain
Manama, August 21, 2008
Bahrain’s food traders have been urged to import cheaper products to protect consumers from global price rises.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro, on Wednesday, encouraged businesses to expand in to new markets when purchasing basic foodstuff such as meat and rice.
He stressed the need to secure all food items at affordable prices and noted the measures taken to protect consumers from skyrocketing prices.
Dr Fakhro also called for the industry to continue investigating ways to alleviate the problem, particularly during Ramadan.
He made the comments during a meeting with food traders at the ministry headquarters in Seef.
Dr Fakhro encouraged businessmen to invest in food commodities to help reduce rising prices and inflation.
The cost of staple foods such as corn and wheat has rocketed around the world in the last year as a result of soaring oil prices, bio-fuels, reduced rice exports and poor harvests.
Jawad Supermarket manager Kareem Jawad, who attended the meeting, said the minister’s main priority was to ensure prices are kept low for consumers.
’He wanted to make sure traders are bringing in rice and other staples at low prices,’ he said.
’He also wanted to make sure there is enough food for Ramadan.’
Jawad said despite public perceptions, keeping prices low was not easy.
’We cater to most markets - the high end and the lower end with our convenience stores,’ he said.
’It can be quite difficult to reduce prices.
’We import yoghurt, for example, that needs to be flown in and we have to cope with the price petrol and on top of that there are terrorism charges in case the plane gets shot out of the sky.’
The Gulf Daily News,our sister publication last week revealed that inspectors will crack down on Ramadan price cheats.
Dr Fakhro said visits to trading outlets would be increased in the wake of the start of the holy month, as part of efforts to regulate prices and catch offenders.
The government already spends BD24 million ($63.6 million) a year subsidising basic foodstuff such as meat, flour and poultry.
Dr Fakhro also encouraged consumers to carefully choose goods that do not erode their purchasing power such as Jasmine rice, which is 40 per cent cheaper than brands from India and Pakistan.
Dr Fakhro signed a memorandum of understanding with the Rice Miller Association during a five-day visit to Thailand in May.
Bahrain imports around 40,000 tons of rice a year at a cost of BD1.7 million and the deal was aimed at ensuring supplies and the stabilisation of prices. - TradeArabia News service