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Dates: crackdown convicts fraudsters in Saudi Arabia

March 20, 2024 at 2:42 PM , Der AUDITOR
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DHAKA/RIYADH. The authorities in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh were able to convict seven fraudsters who had passed off inferior dates as premium goods. In Bangladesh and India, meanwhile, date prices rise noticeably during Ramadan.

Prices skyrocket

As FreshPlaza reports with reference to Arab News, dates from the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are in great demand in Bangladesh as they are needed for the iftar meal in Ramadan. The prices are correspondingly high, but this does not dampen demand. Arabian dates are now grown all over the world, with Egypt as the leading producer. The Ajwa dates from Madinah, Saudi Arabia, and the Maryam variety are particularly appreciated for their quality and flavour. Other popular varieties are the Medjool, Mabroom and Dabbas dates. According to Arab News, the demand for dates in Bangladesh increases significantly every year during Ramadan and accounts for 70% of the annual consumption of around 80,000 mt.

The prices of Zaidi dates, which are very popular in Bangladesh, have also risen massively. Prothom Alo reports that retail prices have shot up from Tk 96/kg (EUR 0.81/kg) to Tk 300-350/kg (EUR 2.52-2.94/kg), causing concern among both consumers and industry representatives. Increased transport costs and high bank interest rates are among the reasons for the increases. An analysis of customs and market data by Chattogram shows an irrational increase in prices from import to retail distribution. Mohammad Kamal of the Fresh Fruit Importers Association also points out to Prothom Alo the high customs and operating costs for dates compared to other fruits. The Bangladeshi government has already responded by setting a price ceiling for low-grade dates and Zaidi dates, but market prices often exceed these regulated prices. Efforts to regulate import duties, including a recent 10% cut to reduce prices during Ramadan, have not yet brought the expected drop in retail prices, FreshPlaza said. Of the 38,205 mt of dates imported into Bangladesh since the tariff adjustment, 28% are of the Zaidi variety.

Arrests in Riyadh

Meanwhile, Gulf News reports on an unpleasant incident in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. During a raid there, several people were convicted of storing, repackaging and changing the expiry date of low-quality dates in order to feign high quality and pass them off as premium varieties. The fraud was uncovered by the Ministry of Commerce together with the Ministry of Human Resources and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority. Around 400kg of manipulated dates as well as large quantities of packaging material, counterfeit labels and transport crates were seized. Seven people were arrested and will be charged with commercial fraud.

Price increases in India as well

FreshPlaza states that the Indian date market is also experiencing significant price increases as Ramadan progresses, citing information from the Times of India. Here, too, consumption rises sharply during the fasting month and the high demand pushes up prices. Experts are talking about price increases of between 15 and 20%, depending on the variety. The price increases are fuelled by global production fluctuations and a possible shortage of supply. Popular varieties include Ajwa and Maryam dates, for example. Retailers are drawing on stocks from the previous year in order to meet the high demand. As long as Ramadan continues, market players do not expect prices in India to fall.

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