Lebanon Businessnews News

Chaos in food prices
as result from turmoil
Variations from ten percent decrease

to 24 percent increase

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The prices of most food products sold in supermarkets increased rising by one to 24 percent over the last three weeks driven by road blockades and the rise in the exchange value of the U.S. dollar.

Average prices of tomato, cabbage, and apples surged 24 percent, 19 percent, and 16 percent respectively between Oct. 14 and Nov. 4, according to the Ministry of Economy and Trade (MoET).

Some vegetables and fruits witnessed a plunge in their prices as farmers were not able to sell their produce due to road blockades by protesters. The average prices of banana and oranges plummeted by ten and 11 percent respectively.

Source: Ministry of Economy and Trade

Walid Chehade, Chairman of Giant Stores (Al Makhazin) said that prices of most fresh vegetables and of fresh meat have increased because of higher transportation costs due to road blockades. Transportation costs represent a significant proportion of the total cost of vegetables and fruits and so it has a significant impact on their prices, he said. According to Chehade, the prices of other goods at Al Makhazin were not affected by the rise in the dollar’s exchange value because they didn’t yield to attempts by importers to raise prices. He said these importers were still selling from existing stocks purchased at regular dollar prices. Chehade said that the cost in dollars represents around 50 percent of the total cost of imports while the remainder is in lira such as customs duties, customs clearing expenses, and local transport costs. Importers must take this fact into consideration when they raise their prices, he said.

Abdel Rahman Itani, Chairman of Shoppers International, said that prices of imported dairy products such as cheese increased, but this affects few consumers. He said that the cost of some vegetables has increased for seasonal reasons.

Spinneys said the prices of some of their products increased because of the rise in the dollar exchange value.

Hanane Hanna Purchasing Manager at the shopping center Storiom Saliba said wholesalers and importers have increased prices that had reached as a high as 15 percent. She said that some imported products have become missing such as some coffee brands and pet food products.

Chehade said that there is no concern that products will be missing from the market because stocks last for 60 days. Consumers didn’t rush to buy either because of lack of liquidity or lack of panic. He said that their sales decreased 12 percent compared with the pre-crisis period.

According to Itani, some consumers have panicked and changed their behavior. They have started to buy in large quantities in order to store goods at home, he said.

Reported by Jana Houeis, Gisele Khalaf, Shikrallah Nakhoul
Date Posted: Nov 08, 2019
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