Bahrain's stores vow to keep prices down in Ramadan
Manama, June 23, 2014
At least 50 of Bahrain's top supermarkets and food distributors have signed a pledge to keep prices down during Ramadan.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) is a commitment not to raise prices and actually try to bring them down during the Muslim holy month, which is expected to start this weekend, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It was agreed during a meeting of leading food retailers at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), in Sanabis, yesterday (June 22).
"The first priority was Ramadan and the pricing of goods during Ramadan," said BCCI executive board member and food and agriculture committee chairman Khalid Al Amin.
"Everybody signed an MoU agreeing that no one would raise any prices in Ramadan and do their best to lower prices.
"The MoU will guarantee that prices will stay the same or get lower."
While Muslims fast during the daylight hours in Ramadan, nights are traditionally a time to feast and food sales actually increase as people stock up on their favourite ingredients.
Several meals take place between sunset and sunrise and often elaborate spreads are prepared for guests, while households cook up more food than normal so they can give away dishes to neighbours and the needy.
Al Amin said he expected market forces to drive up the price of some products, but hoped any increases would be minimal.
"It is demand and supply at the end of the day," he said.
"There are some prices that have gone up and there is nothing that can be done to deal with it.
"Even if the price goes up for a few products it won't be by much."
He added it was unlikely there would be any food shortages during Ramadan.
"Last year they (top-selling products) didn't sell out," said Al Amin.
"Last year everybody had double and even triple quantities. Like Vimto (a popular Ramadan drink in Bahraini households), you can sell all year round so they stock up.
"So we won't have any shortages this year."
He added the BCCI had been in contact with the King Fahad Causeway Authority to ensure a smooth flow of imported products into the country from Saudi Arabia.
However, the Industry and Commerce Ministry is urging people to avoid stockpiling food in the first week of Ramadan.
"We don't want people to rush and buy in bulk at the beginning of the month," said Standard and Consumer Protection Assistant Under-Secretary Dr Abdulla Ahmed.
"It is a bad habit that can affect the consumers themselves, as that food may be lost due to heat and improper storage conditions.
"Foods are available and the prices are stable."
He revealed that food retailers had up to nine months worth of supplies in reserve if necessary.
"In the past there has been a recurring problem of people buying in such large quantities that it creates a shortage," he said.
"In the first week you will see them rushing to buy in bulk, but we don't want that to happen because it is just not good practice." - TradeArabia News Service