The coming weeks will see peak consumption patterns emerge, including food order-ins. The Ministry of Economy is making sure prices remain in check and discounts offered are matched. Image Credit: Pexels

Dubai: UAE’s co-operatives are emerging as the go-to places for lower retail prices on food essentials, with discounts of up to 50 per cent across nearly 6,000 products available in the coming weeks. Keeping food prices stable and affordable has become a top priority for retailers - and the authorities – after global inflation-linked increases during the past 12 months.

The Ministry of Economy is monitoring all such offers announced for the Ramadan phase – and also making sure that adequate supplies are there right through this period. Apart from co-operatives, leading hypermarket operators and online marketplaces are also pushing heavily with discount promotions, especially on daily consumables.

“Despite the challenges faced by the global supply chains due to today’s political and economic developments, the Ministry of Economy made sure that no unjustified price hikes were implemented by suppliers,” said Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Monitoring and Follow Up Sector at the Ministry of Economy. “The methods for combating monopoly practices and supporting sound trade practices have also been strengthened.”

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Raising frequency of retail sector checks

In the run up to the current wave of promotions, UAE authorities held meetings with all leading commodity suppliers. These were aimed at ‘ensuring there are sufficient stocks of these commodities to meet the needs of consumers’. during Ramadan.

According to retail industry sources, traders and hypermarket operators have taken to retaining higher stocks on all key essential food supplies during this period. “At no point can there be any shortage – and we have upgraded our stocking practices so that there will be no wastage,” said a retailer.

We set the necessary mechanisms and implement initiatives that guarantee their rights in accordance with the highest global standards and in line with the UAE’s Federal Law No. 15 of 2020 on Consumer Protection

- Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi at the UAE Ministry of Economy

Plenty available

According to the Ministry of Economy, the stock availability of fruits and vegetables in the UAE markets is 143,000 tons. The daily consumption in the Dubai market alone is estimated at 19,000 tons and that in Abu Dhabi around 6,000 tons.

Clear demand spike

Since the last weekend, "There's been a sharp increase in demand for food category purchases at Lulu hyper-stores," said V. Nandakumar, Chief Marketing Officer at Lulu Group.  "The average spend on food purchases per shopper too has increased compared to past Ramadans, because consumers feel the need to stock up."

Maintaining food prices through this Ramadan period is the top priority for us, other retailers, shoppers, and of course, the authorities.

- V. Nandakumar of Lulu Group

No place for violators

Through the first few months of 2023, the Ministry of Economy went through 8,170 inspections, which detected 1,030 violations. “The relevant departments made sure that price tags are being displayed and quality products are offered to consumers, thus preventing instances of fraud and trademark infringements,” the statement added.

UAE consumer rights

The UAE has adopted some of the 'most efficient' policies to ensure availability of strategic stocks of all basic commodities, according to the Ministry of Economy official. And for 'longer periods' too.

"The availability of choices allows consumers to choose a product that suits their needs and budget, and enable them to switch from a specific brand to another when the price of one brand goes up or when its quality declines," said Al Shamsi. "This is important since purchasing decisions of consumers are a critical factor that influences price fluctuations, market direction, and the supply and demand dynamics.”

Apart from access to all facts about the product or service they are buying, UAE rules make it clear that consumers' data cannot be used for promotional and marketing purposes. They also have the 'right to fair and prompt settlement of disputes, and obtaining fair compensation for damages incurred by the purchase or use of a faulty commodity'.

Consumers can provide feedback, file complaints

  1. Consumers can offer feedback to the UAE Ministry of Economy and other relevant authorities through relevant channels.
  2. They can also use these channels to file a complaint, report commercial malpractices or submit suggestions and ideas that contribute to developing the UAE’s consumer protection ecosystem. They can also reach out via the phone number 8001222.

“The Ministry of Economy works alongside our federal and local government partners, especially the Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection, and communicates and coordinates with the cooperatives, the private sector and stakeholders in order to continuously develop the UAE’s consumer protection policies. Through these collective efforts, we set the necessary mechanisms and implement initiatives that guarantee their rights in accordance with the highest global standards and in line with the UAE’s Federal Law No. 15 of 2020 on Consumer Protection.”