YAMEESH -- dried fruits and nuts -- are a quintessential Ramadan food item. But this year, according to Ahmed Sheeha, head of the Importers' Division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, demand is low.
"Prices increased on some items by 25 per cent and people's purchasing power is less. Sales are down around 30 per cent."
But Nehad Ali, housewife, is not complaining. She said that she found some of the yameesh items she needed in government cooperatives at "very good prices". As for the rest, she said, she did without them or bought smaller quantities.
Yameesh is traditionally imported from Syria, Turkey and Iran, added Sheeha. But while Turkey, this year, accounts for the lion's share of imports given the disruption of Syrian supplies, what Syrian produce is being imported is cheaper than last year.
"It is a miracle we have any yameesh at all. The government should not spend much needed hard currency importing it," said pensioner Fathi Ahmed, clearly concerned that Egypt's foreign reserves have fallen by $20 billion since January 2011.