In the days leading up to Eid El-Adha, which starts on Saturday, Ahram Online visited meat markets in downtown Cairo to gauge people's turnout to buy meat, the cuts available in the market, and how much meat prices have increased in the past year.
Mando Sayed, a butcher and owner of a meat shop in Sayeda Zeinab, a lower middle-class district, said this year’s turnout to buy fresh meat is relatively moderate, noting that although “it is a [high] season, the livestock supply is low" because of the high cost of fodder.
“The price of a kilo of fresh (baladi) beef or lamb meat stands at between EGP 170 and EGP 200, reaching up to EGP 220 in higher class neighbourhoods,” Sayed said.
The present reporter, however, saw higher demand on frozen, imported meat due to its lower price.
Many social groups are buying imported meat to celebrate Eid El-Adha because of its availability at subsidised prices at the shops the Armed Forces and Interior Ministry operate.
Magdy El-Banan, an imported meat vendor, said turnout on imported meat is high because of the occasion of Eid El-Adha, adding that the price of one kilo of imported, frozen beef ranges between EGP 75 and EGP 105.
“We import meat and livestock from Colombia, Brazil, Malaysia, China, Sudan, Turkey, and Somalia,” El-Banan told Ahram Online, pointing out that the preparation for sale of frozen, imported meat is conducted under the supervision of the health authorities.
Brazilian meat is the best, he said, noting that “the only difference between local and imported meat is the price. Egypt's livestock has drastically decreased over the past 20 years.”
“Most of the imported meat customers are low-income citizens or businessmen who want to feed the poor,” he added.
El-Banan stressed that importers are currently buying less meat, based on the market demand.
During Eid El-Adha, which is one of the two major annual Islamic feasts, Muslims slaughter cows, sheep, or goats to feed the family and donate to the poor, marking Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, on God's command.
The Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) published an illustration this week showing that a kilo of meat was sold at EGP 164.6 in May 2022, up from EGP 134 in May 2021.
Sayed noted that some low-income segments were a no-show this year.
In mid-June, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly urged Egyptians to rationalise their consumption amid the global food crisis to ease the foreign currency burden on the state, yet he affirmed the availability of basic commodities.
Egypt is exerting its utmost effort to deal with the current global crisis, which is the worst in the world over the past 100 years, Madbouly stated.
He added that rationalised consumption will enable the state to provide all the people's needs and keep commodity reserves unaffected.
Hassan El-Dahan, a livestock merchant and butcher, pointed out that demand to buy livestock declined by 50 percent this year due to the skyrocketing prices. A 500 kg cow was sold for EGP 25,000- 30,000 last year, he stated, adding that it now stands at EGP 40,000 or more.
Mona Hussein, 60, is a retired clerk who said that she and her sister used to buy a cow to slaughter and donate meat to the poor before Eid Al-Adha.
However, Hussein said that this year they could not afford a cow and decided to wait until the third or fourth day of Eid to buy meat if the price goes down.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Abdo, a 30-year-old herder who took the job after his family, said that the recent surge in the cost of fodder denied him profit from the business.
Abdo added that he has to feed around 50 lambs for EGP 200 on a daily basis, noting that the current price of one lamb is EGP 5,000, which is not a sum many people who want to sacrifice an animal can afford.
El-Dahan said he wants to adopt the state’s instructions on environmentally friendly slaughtering, noting that this will cost him less than paying a fine.
Mando affirmed that his cows are slaughtered in the automated slaughterhouse in El-Basatin district, south of Cairo, where the General Organisation for Veterinary Services and Ministry of Health supervise the procedure.
Last year, the Cairo governor announced a fine of up to EGP10,000 for slaughtering animals on the street as part of Eid El-Adha celebrations, adding that those responsible for slaughtering animals on the street could face up to one year in prison.
The role of charity NGOs
Another way of sacrificing for Eid Al-Adha and reducing the cost is offered by Islamic NGOs, such as Misr El-Kheir Foundation (MEK). They sell sacrificial sukuk (Islamic bonds) of nine kg of meat for EGP 3,990. Last year this type of sukuk was sold for EGP 3,500.
MEK delivers the meat to the poor and needy throughout the four days of the Eid and the rest to the buyers right after the holiday.
Shefa El-Orman Foundation, another charity NGO, sells fresh sacrificial sukuk of nine kg for EGP 3,600 and Brazilian meat sukuk for EGP 2,950.
Various e-payment companies have introduced the electronic purchase of sukuk from charity NGOs in recent years.