Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1264, (1 - 7 October 2015)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1264, (1 - 7 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

A meatless feast?

This year’s Eid Al-Adha feast saw a decline in demand for meat amid soaring prices, reports Nesma Nowar

local meat
local meat
Al-Ahram Weekly

Demand for meat usually rises with the advent of the Muslim feast of Eid Al-Adha, which sees a major increase in meat consumption. But the soaring prices of meat this year scared off many Egyptians and affected demand during the Eid.

The prices of local meat increased significantly a few weeks before the Eid to reach more than LE100 per kg, up from around LE80.

Mohamed Wahba, head of the Butchers Division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, attributes the decline in demand to the tight budgets of many Egyptian families who are still recovering from the financial burdens of the holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of the new school year.

Consequently, many families had opted for the cheaper meat produced by the Armed Forces farms or imported meat at government consumer outlets because of its more affordable prices, he said.

The government has been supplying large quantities of meat to its consumer outlets to combat price increases. It has provided the outlets with Brazilian, Ethiopian and Sudanese meat at prices ranging from LE40 to LE 60 per kg, compared to the LE90 per kg for local meat.

The government has also provided live cattle at LE38 per kg that government employees can buy through six-month installments. These extra supplies, accompanied by the already high meat prices, have caused lower demand and prevented prices rising even further during the Eid.

The skyrocketing meat prices have prompted a social media campaign known as “forget about meat” that called for a boycott and forced traders to lower their prices. The campaign started in Aswan at the end of August, and it has garnered significant support since.

However, Wahba denied that the boycott campaign had caused the decline in demand, which he instead put down to the strained budgets of many Egyptians.

He said the boycott campaign would not help bring meat prices down because the problem lay in dwindling meat production. “A boycott only works when you have enough supply, but we have a significant deficit between local production and consumption, which inevitably pushes prices up,” Wahba said.

For this reason, he is worried that people will see a further hike in meat prices after the feast because of the receding supply. He said that Egypt now produces 40 per cent of its meat, while it imports 60 per cent.

“Fifteen years ago, we used to produce 60 per cent of our needs, but now production has dwindled to only 40 per cent, and this has been exacerbated by the increasing demand of the growing population,” Wahba commented.

Meanwhile, the “forget about meat” campaign said in a statement last week that the services sector affiliated to the Armed Forces had responded to the campaign’s request to provide extra quantities of meat at reduced prices by opening new sales outlets in different governorates.

The campaign has promised that it will resume its activities after the Eid and that it will continue working to achieve its goals and find a long-term solution to the soaring meat prices.

Doaa Mohamed, 37, a housewife, said that she could not afford local meat, which has reached LE95 per kg. “The prices have increased compared to last year, and I can’t find a clear reason for this,” she said. “I bought some meat produced by the armed forces which is of good quality for LE44 per kg instead,” she added.

While Mohamed had opted for the Armed Forces meat, others have substituted meat for poultry, whose prices are more affordable for many Egyptians.

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