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Produce tents accused of price gouging

AMMAN — Tents selling fruits and vegetables alongside the streets of west Amman charge “much” higher prices than large supermarkets, according to consumers.

Residents interviewed by The Jordan Times on Wednesday complained that although these tents do not pay taxes or wages like shopping centres, they charge almost double the prices of supermarkets.

At a tent in Tlaa Al Ali on Wednesday, tomatoes were on sale for JD0.75 per kilo, while a supermarket in a nearby mall sold them for JD0.49. A kilo of cucumbers was JD1 versus JD0.69 at the supermarket, while eggplant was JD0.70 per kilo compared to JD0.39.

The price of imported green apples at another tent in the area was JD1.5 per kilo, while in the shopping mall it was JD1.

Asked why the prices of produce were relatively high, the owner of a tent, who asked to be identified as Mustafa, said prices in the central Amman wholesale market were high.

According to Amman central market’s Wednesday price report, however, the wholesale price of tomatoes was JD0.25 per kilo, cucumbers JD0.40 and eggplant JD0.30.

Mustafa declined to comment on whether he paid taxes or electricity bills, but insisted that the produce displayed in tents is of better quality than in supermarkets.

Owners of roadside produce tents pay the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) JD500 a year in licensing fees, he said.

Zuhair Jweihan, president of the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruits and Vegetables, told The Jordan Times over the phone that many consumers think produce prices in tents are lower than in supermarkets or retail shops, but this is not the case.

Jweihan said that even in light of supply shocks caused by heatwaves that affected production this summer, tent vendors should be charging much less.

“Retailers and tent owners are to blame” for hiking prices, he said.

Consumers shopping at the tents said that they knew they were being ripped off and that prices should be lower, but that they bought produce there anyway for the sake of convenience.

Nahla Ahmad, who was buying vegetables at one of the tents in Tlaa Al Ali on Wednesday, said that although the prices were too high, most people buy fresh vegetables and fruits on a daily basis and are willing to pay more for the convenience of tents rather than taking a longer trip to a supermarket.

Samar Al Ani, another shopper, agreed.

“I know that prices in tents are higher than in supermarkets but I come here because I don’t feel like driving to go shopping,” she said.


THE JORDAN TIMES - 30, Aug 2012