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Boycott of table eggs, potatoes had minor effect on prices, unionists say

By Dana Al Emam - Jan 30,2017 - Last updated at Jan 30,2017

An activist says there is a 'lack of awareness' among consumers in Jordan of the 'culture of boycott' (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — The campaign to boycott table eggs and potatoes had a “minimal” impact on the poultry and agriculture sectors, sector leaders and activists said on Monday.

Jordanian Poultry Producers Union President Abdul Shakour Jamjoum said the boycott campaign was only effective in its first few days and its impact ended afterwards.

Meanwhile, he noted that egg production drops at this time of the year due to cold weather conditions, a matter that naturally increases prices of table eggs.

From February to November, farmers sell a carton of table eggs for JD1.5, but in December and January the price reaches a maximum of JD2.35. 

But customers find table eggs in markets at higher prices, as marketing agents, who do the packaging, and shop owners add a profit margin. 

This has increased prices of table eggs to nearly JD 3.5 per carton, Jamjoum explained.

The first few days of the boycott campaign only led to a 5-10 drop in prices.

Last week, the Trade Ministry capped table egg prices, so that a carton of table eggs weighing 2.1kg or more should not be sold by farmers at more than JD2.38, while the price after distribution should not exceed JD2.55 and should not be more than JD2.80 for consumers.

The price of a 2kg carton should not exceed JD2.29, with the price after distribution capped at JD2.45 and the price for consumers limited to JD2.70.

Poultry farms should not sell the 1.8kg carton for more than JD2.08, with the price after distribution not exceeding JD2.30, and consumers should not pay more than JD2.55.

A 1.7kg carton should not be sold for more than JD1.95 and JD2.15, by farmers and distributors respectively, with consumers paying up to a maximum of JD2.35 for the carton, according to ministry regulations.

The price of a 1.6kg carton is capped at JD1.8 when sold by farmers, JD2 after distribution and JD2.2 for consumers, while the price of a 1.5kg carton should not exceed JD1.7 when bought directly from farms and JD1.9 after distribution, allowing consumers to buy the product at a maximum price of JD2.1.

While freezing temperatures have damaged several hundred dunums of potato crops, cultivation in several areas throughout the season has eliminated losses, and consequently prevented extreme price hikes, said Jordan Valley Farmers Union President Adnan Khaddam.

This season was affected by a heatwave in October, a frost spell in November and other losses due to disagreements with transport companies. 

All of these factors have decreased the production of potatoes.

Khaddam noted that each kilogramme costs the farmer JD0.35 and it is sold to the middleman for nearly JD0.40, while consumers buy it from vendors at nearly JD1. 

Prices will drop in February once the weather gets warmer, he expected.

The Consumer Protection Society (CPS) launched a campaign to protest the “monopolisation” of the sector in the middle of this month, CPS President Mohammad Obeidat told The Jordan Times in previous remarks.

Many housewives and activists have joined the campaign, which protested a 30 per cent increase in prices.

Fadi Amro, a social activist and one of the organisers of the boycott campaign on social media outlets, told The Jordan Times on Monday that the public’s commitment to the campaign was “below expectations”, as table eggs and potatoes are essential items and the cheapest sources of protein for families with limited income.

Out of 1.3 million supporters of the virtual campaign, around 20 per cent have actually boycotted the two products, he noted.

Amro attributed the poor commitment to the lack of awareness among popular segments of “boycott culture” and its role in reducing prices, adding that commitment was generally limited to the “educated” segment of supporters.

 

Meanwhile, he expected a potential campaign to boycott telecom companies on February 1 if more taxes are imposed on their services to have a larger impact.

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