“I went to the market and had only EGP 100 ($13.5) in my pocket and I believed that it was enough to purchase ingredients for a delicious meal, which contains meat, okra, tomatoes, as well as vegetables for a salad. First, I asked the butcher to give me a kilo of meat and he said the kilo costs EGP 80 ($10.5). I left him and the meat alleging that I forgot my wallet. I decided to cook a meal without meat, after that I went to vegetable seller asking for 2 kilos of tomatoes, kilo of okra and vegetables, he calculated the charge and said it is EGP 75 ($10). I was astonished that an uncooked meal costs EGP 75 without meat!!”
This is the story of Egyptian female state employee, Wafaa Ramadan, who went to market as usual to buy her needs to cook for one day meal.
The increase in tomato prices has angered the public, especially low-income citizens, because tomatoes are very vital in Egyptian meals, according to Ramadan.
Ramadan added that, if the price increase continues, she will “buy fast-food meals with cheap prices” for her family because of budget concerns.
The price of certain vegetables, such as okra and tomatoes, were unexpectedly high over the past week. The price of a kilo of okra reached EGP 30 ($4) and a kilo of tomatoes cost EGP 10 ($1.5), according to Oubor Market prices.
Meanwhile, Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafi said that vegetable prices are reasonable and will gradually return to normal levels in the markets in the coming days, adding that this increase is due to the new sowing of new crops for the season.
“Prices have decreased a little the day before but are still high,” said Amer Mohamed Mahmoud, a vegetables seller in Obour Market.
Mahmoud said tomato prices decreased by half and prices ranged between EGP 3 to EGP 5 per kilo. A crate of tomatoes amounts to EGP 60 ($7.8) compared to EGP 120 ($17.8), he added.
Mahmoud noted that today’s vegetable prices are stable, attributing increase to the start of the summer season, which began in May, and the start of the winter season in January, as climate changes affect tomato crops.
“Tomato prices are not crazy and I don’t expect another increase in vegetables’ prices in the coming period and in Ramadan,” said Mahmoud.
Head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC), Ahmed El-Wakil, said price increases are very normal in Egypt every year, but the argument this year is due to fabricated crisis, as some crops witnessed an increase in prices due to changing of seasons.
El-Wakil added that tomato prices increase all over the world, more than in Egypt. The prices are not high, but the low income of citizens creates the crisis, he said.
“No one can control or monopolise the prices of vegetables because vegetables have very vulnerable expiration dates. In addition, we have more than 480,000 outlets purchasing food goods and can’t agree together to control the market prices,” said El-Wakil. “If there is balance between demand and supply on one hand and purchasing power on the other, there won’t be a crisis in prices.”