ABU DHABI // Increased monitoring and new measures to set prices will help large food retailers prepare in the case of another global crisis, supermarkets say.
The Ministry of Economy announced yesterday new efforts to predict food price trends, retain competitive pricing and increase local fruit and vegetable production.
"The long-term benefits of it will bring along changes in pricing ability," said V Nandakumar, a spokesman for LuLu Hypermarket.
The ministry already constrains food prices. Suppliers need government approval to raise prices. That keeps consumers and stores protected in a highly competitive market. "Every [big supermarket] advertises their prices each week," said Mr Nandakumar. "When the ads come out, no one can afford to be seen as a pricey shop."
Since the food 2008 crisis, when prices rose 30 per cent worldwide, many supermarkets have worked closely with the government.
Two years ago, LuLu and other supermarkets, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Economy to freeze prices of 32 items - including rice, sugar, oil, milk and poultry - for the rest of the year.
Since then the battle to keep costs low has been ongoing. Hypermarket employees say increasing production of locally grown fruits and vegetables could provide better price protections.
Local-grown food is typically a quarter of the usual cost, according to Mohamed Abdullah, a supervisor at Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society in Bateen. While pleased with the new measures Mr Abdullah also suggested the Government expand its reserves of non-perishable foods to help buffer any sudden price jumps.