File photo: An Egyptian man prepares kunafa, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
Members of the Egyptian Chamber of Food Industries (CFI) have reported a 30 to 40 percent decrease in the sales of desserts during the holy month of Ramadan so far compared to the year before.
Fathi Diab, a member of the CFI and owner of a dessert factory in New Cairo, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that dessert consumption has dropped 40 percent this Ramadan compared to the same month the previous year.
The Islamic fasting month and the following religious Eid El-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan are key seasons for desserts, which traditionally see a boom in demand at pastry shops.
Traditional Middle Eastern desserts like Kunafa, Qatayef, Baklava and Basbousah are widely popular in Egypt during Ramadan, while Kahk, traditional butter cookies covered with powdered sugar are eaten in Eid.
Diab attributed the slump in demand to coronavirus restrictions including a nighttime curfew beginning at 9 pm that have led to significantly fewer buyers. Shops in the capital Cairo typically remain open past-midnight in Ramadan.
Another CFI member, Mohamed El-Gamal, also estimated that demand on desserts this Ramadan have decreased between 30 and 40 percent. The average price per kilo of pastries start from EGP 60-90, he says.
During Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, Muslims abstain from drinking and eating from dawn until dusk, a practice that constitutes one of Islam’s five pillars.
The month is followed by Eid Al-Fitr, or (the feast of breaking the fast), the three-day religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
Egypt is seeing a Ramadan like never before this year, with restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic including an overnight curfew in place since March and a ban on all public gatherings.
All congregational religious activities, including regular communal prayers in mosques, have been suspended since 21 March.
Other traditional public activities that used to take place in Ramadan, such as charity iftar tables for the poor to break their fast, have also been suspended.