By Mohannad Sharawi
JEDDAH – A Saudi expert in food trade feels that Saudi Arabia will experience a decline in various commodity prices during the next two years as a result of the return of agricultural production to its previous status, the increase of the stock of agricultural crops, livestock and the recovery of the global market.
Marwan Hilmi, president of Marwan Global Trade and Import, said that the prices will decline significantly because of a wide range of factors, but it will not go back to what they were in the past, noting that the real hike of prices began in late 2008 and kept on rising.
Hilmi attributed the causes of high food prices to natural disasters that have occurred in the past years, such as rain, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and forest fires, noting that these natural disasters have affected agricultural and livestock production very badly and in turn led to high wages of labor and the rise of oil prices which led to the high costs of transportation and also insurance costs.?“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia imported 870,000 tons of meat and frozen and chilled viscera in 2011 from countries such as New Zealand, Australia, South America, North America, India and some European countries with an estimated value of SR7.63 billion. There are some challenges facing Saudi importers like the tough competition in the local market and a lack of resources resulting from natural disasters,” Helmi added.
During the Gulfood 2012, which was held recently in Dubai, Hilmi assured the Arab and international media that the Kingdom was not affected by the global financial crisis.“We were the first to import the meat of deer from New Zealand to Kingdom and other Gulf states. The deer meat is in high demand.”