CAIRO – 15 June 2018: A population of over 100 million with a median age of 24.8 years leaves Egypt in dire need to ensure food security for its young, and growing population.
In an effort to ensure decent access to food, the government, hand-in-hand with the private sector, has worked on various initiatives, programs and exhibitions, most recently, the Supermarket Expo held annually; and this year held under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Commenting on this Expo, which was held from May 10-16 on an area of 15,000 square meters, Minister of Supply and Internal Trading Ali Moselhy said during a press conference held on April 3, “We are organizing the Expo this year before Ramadan, leaving plenty of time for citizens to be able to benefit from the great deals and the discounted prices.”
With some 250 exhibitors participating in the Expo to introduce products and meat, the Minister explained, there is something for everyone. Other governorates around Egypt also saw similar, but smaller exhibitions being set up.
Attracting a wide array of national and international trade buyers and consumers, the Ramadan edition of the Expo has seen about 800,000 attendees, according to organizers, with many heading over to the Expo to stock up for Ramadan, while also taking advantage of the 15 percent-30 percent discount on foods. This year’s Expo has seen a variety of exhibitors, including food manufacturers, toiletries and household products suppliers, processed foods stalls, dry nut stalls, fish and poultry and meat stalls.
Toward food security in Egypt
During the opening ceremony of the Expo, Moselhy expressed the important role that the Holding Company for Food Industries and its subsidiaries have in supplying foods to consumers on a regular basis and the great job they do in ensuring foods are always available. These needs were also covered through the participation of the private sector and major producers in the ‘Ahlan Ramadan’ Expo in various governorates.
In comments to Egypt Today, Minister Moselhy added that the initiative to reduce prices is set to continue till the end of the month, suggesting that this comes as part of the government’s plan to offer citizens high-quality foods at reasonable prices. Moselhy further confirmed that discounts start from at least 15 percent, and reach more than 30 percent for many products, especially commodities. The exhibitors also sold some products at a lower cost, which confirms the great cooperation between the government and the private sector, he added.
The minister added that the Expo comes as part of President Sisi’s directions to provide food commodities at reasonable prices and to work continuously for the good of citizens. The minister also revealed that the government has been able to provide 1.7 million Ramadan packages—an extra 700,000 from the planned amount—and distribute them to families in need throughout Egypt. The bags, valued at LE 51.5, are sold for half their value, at LE 25, and include essential commodities.
To ensure that North Sinai residents benefit from these discounted prices, the Holding Company for Food Industries coordinated with General Abdel Fattah Harbor, Governor of North Sinai, to provide additional reductions for the people of North Sinai, that reach up to 20 percent on all food products and ensure regular deliveries of commodities for several months, Alaa El-Din Fahmy, Chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries at the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade tells Egypt Today. Fahmy also affirmed that the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade is continuously working on supplying goods, including meats and poultry, to the families of North Sinai, revealing that convoys will start heading to all governorates soon.
Top 10 foods from the Supermarket Expo:
1 - Provision of fresh meat: meat of 12,000 livestock, 7,500 tons of frozen meat and 128 tons of fish.
2- Prices of frozen poultry fixed at LE 17 per kilo.
3- Brazilian minced beef and Brazilian beef cubes are both provided at LE 62, instead of LE 69.
4- American liver sold at LE 28, instead of LE 34. It was the most sought after meat during the Expo, according to various speakers.
5- Provision of 66,000 tons of sugar at a price of LE 8.5 instead of E 9.5.
6- Provision of 935,000 cartons of cooking oil and gee.
7- Egyptian butter provided at LE 100 per kilo; blended imported butter sold at LE 34.
8- Reducing the price of mass dates from LE 10 a kilo to LE 9.5, and that of premium dates from LE 16 to to LE 15.5.
9- Provision of 450,000 Ramadan packages at prices ranging from LE 80-110.
10- Juhayna carton of milk (six one-liter bottles) at LE 71, instead of LE 86.
Exhibitors voice their opinions
Mohamed Hisham, one of the exhibitors at the Ramadan Expo, explains that the company he works with sells Ramadan products like Yameesh and Amar El-Din, and has, like many others, been participating in this Expo since 2016. “We offer 25-30 percent off on the prices of our commodities in the Expo, compared to the prices in our branches. We sell raisins starting from LE 34 to LE 80; date from LE 15 to LE 30; dried coconut is sold for LE 44; and Amar El-Din for LE 15. Compared with prices outside of the Expo, these prices are a real bargain,” Hisham says.
Arwa Mohamed, one of the exhibitors for the Kheir Zaman Supermarket, explains, “We have been coming here every year. We provide lower prices than supermarkets outside the Expo, including our own branches. So far, people are happy with the prices; no one has objected to prices or said that the prices should be lower.” No problems were recorded during the Expo, which is better organized and less busy than it was last year due to prolonging the period by three days, according to Mohamed. Various Panda Supermarket exhibitors also voiced the importance of understanding that lower prices does not mean lower quality.
Mohamed Hassan, one of the exhibitors for Kan, one of the companies providing Ramadan dried fruits and nuts, explains, “We are selling both local and imported products. For imported products, we are selling them at their net cost, meaning we are not making any profit. As a result, it is cheaper by maybe 20-35 percent.” Commenting on the number of attendees, Hassan affirms that the turnout was good, suggesting the value that this Expo adds to Egyptian consumers. “People were even waiting for the Expo to open on the first day…We want to provide consumers the high-quality products and great prices, something we have really managed to do throughout the Expo,” says Hassan.
On the consumer side
“I bought almost everything [I need] for Ramadan from here,” Nour Attiya told Egypt Today. Attiya is a mother of a two-year-old and a teacher at a local language school. “So far, I have saved about 15 percent of the estimated amount I would have spent at the supermarket.” With the prices increasing as a result of high demand during Ramadan, and people scrambling to save what they can in the face of ever-increasing expenses, it is always good to save money, says Attiya.
Afaf Mostafa is also happy about the variety and quality at the Expo. “I managed to buy more here than I would have been able to buy at the supermarket. Coming in, I had planned to purchase rice, oil, jams and these kinds of food from here, and I had planned to purchase nuts for Ramadan elsewhere; I thought the quality of nuts would not be good here—that they would be second grade nuts,” the retired grandmother says, adding that she was pleasantly surprised and ended up buying good-quality nuts. For Mostafa Ramadan is a busy month, with at least 10 people having dinner at her place everyday. Last year, Mostafa explains, she bought the same things, as far as she recalls, from two different places, paying an estimated LE 9,000; and this would just last her for the first few days of the holy month. However, the Expo has allowed her to save about LE 2,000, or 22 percent of last year’s total cost.
Ahmed Taha, father of three, the youngest of whom is sitting for the Thanaweya Amma (the Egyptian secondary system) exams this year, explains that “The Expo was great in every aspect. There was a wide variety of products on display and it was really easy to locate the items that I was looking for,” says Taha, adding that it was better organized than last year’s. “It was less packed, we were not all bundled together.”