KSA imports fruits, vegetables worth SR4 billion annually
The price of vegetables and fruits has tripled during Ramadan. This happens yearly, as demand reportedly increases by up to 15 percent.
Date prices, which usually cost SR5 per box, tripled during the holy month.
Similarly, the price of basic goods such as tomatoes and cucumbers have increased from SR2 or SR3 to SR10.
Shopkeepers, suppliers and stakeholders have placed the blame on the international market and the fact that the Kingdom imports most of its produce from neighboring countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, where political instability has caused a volatility in prices. In addition, the absence of price control within the Kingdom has also been blamed for significant price increases.
Saifullah Sharbatly, general manager at Abdullah Sharbatly, the market leader in fruit and vegetable produce in Jeddah, said there are a number of factors involved in the rise of grocery prices.
“Many natural factors affect production, including floods, drought or fire,” said Sharbatly. “A reduction in production rates naturally pushes prices up. In addition, the changes taking place in the local labor market can also account for price changes. The political unrest in neighboring countries has also played a significant role, so you can no longer adjust prices at a certain index.” He said in Ramadan, higher consumption and demand rates result in higher prices. “If this cultural phenomenon to buy more during Ramadan didn’t exist, prices would be the same,” said Sharbatly.
He confirmed that the volume of fruit import in the Kingdom exceeds SR4 billion annually, where leading countries such as Chile, the Philippines, South Africa, India, Pakistan, France, the United States, China and Egypt regularly export fruit and vegetable to the Saudi market. “Because of our close business ties with neighboring countries in particular, any changes in these nations are immediately felt here,” said Sharbatly.
Consumers have complained that traders exploit the month of Ramadan.
Ahmad Al-Ghamdi, a consumer, said: “I was surprised by the high prices of vegetables and fruit from the first day of Ramadan. Only potatoes have increased slightly in price. Otherwise, the price of a kilo of tomatoes has risen from SR4 to SR10 and the price of a kilo of cucumber has risen from SR2 to almost SR10. The price of grapes and mango have also risen dramatically and banana prices have doubled from SR3 to SR6.” Mohammed Al-Ameri, a shop owner selling vegetables, said that an increase in consumption rates, coupled with a lack of large quantities of produce available in the market, has caused prices to spin out of control.
Jordan has become one of the major exporting countries of vegetables after the price of Syrian produce became too high.
“Nevertheless, the situation will return to normal by the end of Ramadan or after the Eid holidays at most,” he said.