Prices of essential goods such as food will not shoot up during Ramadan as it did during last year’s fasting month.
The start of Ramadan is likely to fall on July 20, according to the Umm Al-Qura Hijri Calendar.
The trend in the consumer food market is to maintain steady prices despite the likelihood of a fall in the prices of commodities imported from Europe during Ramadan, Al-Eqtisadiah daily reported on Tuesday.
Abdullah Balsharaf, vice president of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s food security committee, said: “However, trends in local markets and the impact of developments in exporting countries to the Kingdom will become clear only after the month of Ramadan.”
He expected price rises of 20 to 25 percent.
Balsharaf added the local market is self-sufficient in food and has a reserve stock that will last four to six months.
Balsharaf said the brisk flow of goods before Ramadan is natural and gives traders an opportunity to clear their old stocks.
He added: “The supply will exceed demand and will guarantee steady prices during Ramadan.”
He pointed out the prices of sugar, rice, milk and cooking oil have been falling compared to last year because of the large stocks available in the Kingdom.
He said: “For instance, rice prices will not rise over the next two months at least because stock levels in the local markets is enough to last for the next six months even though prices in international markets are rising.”
He feared local markets would be indirectly affected by price hikes in foreign markets.
However, the rise in prices depends on the nature of the commodity, he added.
For instance, he said, wheat prices will remain stable while prices of other commodities will be affected by variations in the outside markets.
He said: “Although prices in foreign markets rose four months ago and now started to fall, the hikes will start making its impact in the local market only in the next three months.
“The prices rises will appear only after half of the old stocks have been consumed.”
However, the hikes will not be as sharp as in the foreign markets, he added.
Wasif Al-Kably, member of the national commerce committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said current governmental efforts were focused on keeping the prices under control during the month of Ramadan.
He said: “The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, businessmen and chambers are striving to keep the prices of essential commodities down despite the sharp rises in foreign markets.”
He said Saudi traders’ demand to hike the prices of essential goods will be studied after Ramadan.
He added: “The main reasons importers hike prices is related to currency exchange problems and trends in foreign markets.”