Muslims across the world are purchasing sheep, cows, and camels to slaughter on the Eid Al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, which starts the day after tomorrow and commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail when God ordered him to.
But demand for animals has been low this year in Egypt owing to the high prices of sheep and cows, with traders citing the high price of fodder.
Mohamed Wahba, head of the Butchers Division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, said demand was limited with the rise in prices negatively affecting the purchasing power of consumers.
Demand was about 50 per cent less than last year, he said, as consumers were suffering from the high prices of all goods and services.
The price of a kg of live sheep has reached LE90, he said, and that of a kg of live cow LE80, with these prices being about 30 per cent higher than last year. The average price of a cow weighing 400 kg is more than LE30,000, Wahba said, adding that according to Muslim Sharia Law up to a maximum of seven Muslims can share in one sacrifice.
According to Islam Hassan, a butcher in the Haram district in Giza, customers who used to buy animals every year also bought this year, but in lesser quantities.
He said that the lowest price for a sheep suitable for sacrifice was around LE5,000, and the prices of calves ranged from between LE18,000 and LE35,000. Prices varied according to the age and weight of the calf, he said.
Ahmed Gamal, a 28-year-old accountant, said he wanted to buy his first animal for Eid Al-Adha, but he could not do so because of the high prices. Many of his family members including his father would have difficulty bearing the cost of the sacrifice alone this year, and so they had resorted to sharing it with others.
Wahba said that the Russian war in Ukraine was one of the main reasons for the rise in meat prices. “We rely heavily on Ukrainian meat,” he said, adding that the current situation in Ukraine had affected supply leading to increased prices.
Importers have opened the way to agreements with other countries, among them Sudan, but this would be too late to affect prices during the Eid.
An increase in the cost of imports due to the devaluation of the pound has added to the problem.
Wahba said that more than 90 per cent of fodder for farm animals is imported and more than 40 per cent of local meat is also imported. Egypt consumes some 1.2 million tons of meat annually.
He added that increases in the prices of agricultural commodities globally had also affected the local market, with the price of the Brazilian or Argentinian corn used to feed animals increasing by about 50 per cent to reach LE7,850 per ton in June compared to LE5,250 in the same month of 2021.
Adel Abdel-Aziz, managing director of the General Company for Wholesale Trade affiliated with the ministry of supply, said that preparations for the Eid Al-Adha included the provision of greater quantities of all types of meat, whether fresh or frozen, to meet the increasing consumption rates.
He said during a telephone interview on the DMC satellite TV channel that all the Ministry of Supply’s consumer outlets would be open during the first three days of the Eid to provide more meat, with 39 opened in the governorates to meet additional needs.
Sudanese beef sold by the ministry outlets was LE115 per kg, or 30 per cent lower than market prices, and a further 4,112 tons of frozen meat had been provided.
The ministry was reducing the prices of frozen beef from LE90 to LE85 per kg, he said. Frozen lamb had been reduced from LE140 to LE135 per kg, with current market prices reaching LE180 per kg, he added.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 7 July, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.