JEDDAH: Irfan Mohammed
Published — Saturday 1 December 2012
Last update 1 December 2012 1:08 am
Surging prices of vegetables and fruits have been worrying residents for the last few months. Fruits and vegetable whether imported from Syria or Turkey or locally harvested had become unaffordable for many.
But the prices have finally dropped, up to 50 percent in some cases. A 5-kilo carton of tomatoes which was selling for SR 40 a week ago is now being offered at SR 14 at the central vegetable market at Halaqa in Jeddah.
The drop in prices was attributed to the arrival of locally harvested crops of tomatoes, potatoes and okra in the market. However, leading super markets are still selling them at previous prices with promotion tags.
In the last few weeks, tomato prices were the worst affected, with some supermarkets charging more than SR 12 a kilogram. Even street vendors charged up to SR 10 a kilo.
The prices of tomatoes, which are widely used in Middle Eastern dishes, skyrocketed during the peak pilgrimage seasons of Ramadan and Haj. The turmoil in Syria not only choked the supply from that country but also disrupted supplies from Turkey to the Kingdom as they pass through Syria.
Besides imports from abroad, tomatoes are a commonly harvested crop in Saudi Arabia. It is grown in all major regions from Taif in the west to Sakaka in the north with an estimated cultivated area of over 15,000 hectares. Tomatoes harvested in Al-Kharj and Riyadh are considered premium quality and are much sought-after in Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah. Tomatoes from this region have a market share of over 50 percent in the Kingdom. With tomatoes from Riyadh arriving in Jeddah from Thursday, their prices took a drastic plunge.
Potatoes, mainly imported from Lebanon, have been selling for more than SR 6 per kilo as the political situation in Lebanon has not been stable in recent months. With fresh potato crops from the Hail region reaching local markets, prices have dropped to half. Similar is the case with okra. Locally and imported okra that was sold at SR 12 per kilo are now selling for SR 6 per kilo with abundant supplies from Taif and Al Baha regions.
Vegetable wholesale trader Ahmed Sayed told Arab News that “the rates are expected to fall further.”