Rice, poultry to be imported amid shortages

The state-run General Authority for the Supply of Commodities (GASC) is currently seeking tenders for the purchase of 70,000 metric tons of rice, to be sold on to ration card holders. The move aims to offset anticipated supply shortages before and during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which will begin next month.

According to a GASC source, bidders’ prices are expected to be lower than previously because many merchants are keen to sell off surplus inventories. The source went on to note that GASC had access to the funds required for the purchase.

Regarding poultry prices, former head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Khaled Abu Ismail–who currently runs one of the world’s largest poultry suppliers–predicted that retail poultry prices would rise to LE18 per chicken within the next two months. He ruled out the idea of reducing custom duties on poultry imports, however, saying this would only serve the interests of importers who would seize the opportunity to raise retail prices.

Abdel Aziz el-Sayyid, poultry director at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce (CCC), said that Egypt was currently suffering a shortage of one million hens per day due to the tightening of licensing restrictions on the nation’s poultry farms.

The state-run Food Industries Holding Company is currently in negotiations to import up to 2000 tons of poultry per month to offset expected Ramadan shortages.

Meanwhile, merchants have confirmed increases in rice prices in recent days due to local shortages. They note that many government supply outlets have stopped selling the commodity, which has forced many low-income consumers to purchase rice on the free market, where it is sold at non-subsidized prices.

According to Salah Abdel Aziz, head of the retail sector at the CCC, the chamber is planning to hold an emergency meeting to discuss local rice shortages. He warned that the rice planting season was only two months away, saying that the Foreign Trade Ministry should provide a valid reason for the price hikes. Abdel Aziz noted that prices of other foodstuff commodities–such as tea and macaroni–remained stable.

Ezzat Aziz, head of legumes at the CCC, for his part, predicted that rice prices would increase by between 5 and 10 percent in the near term. He recommended finding a way to replenish local market supply in order to restore price equilibrium.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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