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Food for thought

Food for thought

As Gulfood is underway, big questions are being asked about the UAE’s exposure to global food price fluctuations. What can be done?

February 28, 2011 2:56 by

Kipp keeps getting invited to Gulfood, and we really want to go. All these invites come with promises of tasty treats or delicious meals, and that is exactly the way to win Kipp over – ordinarily it would mean big time coverage. Unfortunately we’re stacked with work – the kind of mind-numbing admin stuff that would break lesser sites, and which, once completed, will go into someone else’s draw and never see the light of day again – so we’ve had to pass the invites up.

But you know what? We’re starting to think there are more practical reasons to go than to enjoy the free food. Like stocking up. Seriously, we should be there with a big bag, emptying platefuls of food into it to take home for the freezer. It could save us thousands of dirhams off the next few ‘big shops.’ Because, as anyone who eats has probably realized, food is getting more expensive.

And that’s actually one of the big topics at this year’s Gulfood. How can we in the UAE – and all countries in the Gulf – protect ourselves from global food price fluctuations?

The problem for the UAE is, of course, that it is massively reliant on imported food. So when the global food supply is outstripped by demand, and prices rise, the UAE cannot control them. For instance, Emirates 24-7 reports that, “food supply and food stocks in the region will remain tight for the rest of 2011.” The bushfire in Russia, floods in Australia and other unpredictable events have caused a shortage in the supply of wheat, according to Essa Abdulla Al Ghurair, Chairman of Al Ghurair Foods, one of the world’s leading flour mill companies.

“The bush fire in Russia and floods in Australia have caused the wheat supply situation very tight. Everybody is trying to store a bit more than their regular requirement and there is a psychological pressure to stock food crops,” Al Ghurair said at Gulfood.

This instinct to stock up only uses up supply faster, forcing the price higher still.

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