JEDDAH: IRFAN MOHAMMED
Published — Saturday 13 July 2013
Last update 17 July 2013 10:09 am
The prices of several essential commodities like rice and oil have declined in the wake of skyrocketing prices of meat thanks to aggressive and competitive marketing techniques adopted by leading supermarkets and hypermarkets during Ramadan.
Indeed, there has been a 25 to 50-percent drop in prices of some commodities thanks to the price war and despite the fact that food prices usually rise with increased demand.
With major players in the Kingdom having slashed prices, others have unleashed a promotional war to lure consumers and increase their market share. A case in point is the price of fruit juice, which has dropped drastically thanks to promotional campaigns during Ramadan.
Astonishingly, the marking down of prices (some products are selling at prices lower than the cost price) has had a ripple effect in the market in that producers and sellers of other products are also being forced to lower their prices.
Indian basmati rice, the main staple of Saudi Arabia which commanded a price of SR 30 for a five-kg bag, is now being sold at SR 19.50 by leading supermarket chains. It comes as no surprise then that thousands of customers are inundating supermarkets and that stocks are being sold out in a single day.
Shaikh Rahmatullah, an Indian expat who had to visit four supermarket outlets to find a bag of rice, told Arab News: “It is indeed reason enough for the average expatriate to cheer about.”
There was apprehension that sugar prices would shoot up following the recent fire accident in the Kingdom’s only sugar production plant in Jeddah. Despite that, sugar is cheaper now contrary to expectations.
A local brand of sunflower oil, another key kitchen ingredient, is now selling at SR 34 for three packs of 1.8 liters against the normal price of SR 47. Fine flour is also being sold at half its normal price.
Other products which have registered a drop include a 2.5-kg pack of Tang juice powder falling from SR 41 to SR 30, a liter of Heinz tomato ketchup going from SR 30 to SR 22 and the price of Quaker white oats declining from SR 19 to SR 11 a kilo. Besides food items, several other products like soaps and detergents are also being sold at heavily discounted prices.
Prices of dairy products and vegetables, however, have refused to come down. Tomatoes and onions are particularly expensive.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Commerce is monitoring prices and sales promotions and according to sources, it has given only five days to supermarkets to conduct sales promotions. Promotions also vary from one region to another and include dates.