Raisins are a common product in Yemeni market during the holiday season and the rest of the year, but foreign competition has proved harmful to domestic producers. Despite strict rules made by the Yemeni government preventing the Ministry of Agriculture from importing any type of raisins from Iran or China, Yemeni markets this year still found themselves flooded by Chinese raisins. Fancily packaged and cheaply priced, these raisins caught the attention of many Yemeni shoppers. In general, the wide variety of Chinese raisins that appear in stores during Eid causes a decline in the expensive price of domestic Yemeni raisins.
Yemeni authorities have said that they prevent the entry of imported raisins in order protect the Yemeni product. They also emphasized that any imported raisins sold in markets are acts of smuggling unsanctioned by the government, but Yemeni raisin farmers and retailers feel that this is simply an attempt by the government to escape their responsibility to protect a domestic industry.
Raisin producers have accused the Ministry of Agriculture along with customs authorities of allowing other producers to import and sell Chinese raisins in Yemeni markets. They claim that these raisins enter the country through formal channels under faked names and thanks to financial bribes.
The producers pointed out the large quantities of Chinese raisins available in numerous distinct varieties in Yemeni markets before the beginning of Eid. According to these producers, so many raisins could not enter the country solely through smugglers.
Sana’a’s raisin producers directed their accusations to raisin traders. They told the Yemen Press that “officials are the main factor behind the losses and damages to seasonal raisin trading because few people are now buying raisins on the eve of Eid al-Fitr.”
A government newspaper has conducted an investigation into the effect of Chinese raisins on the national product, examining the impact of the attractive packaging and low prices of Chinese raisins in particular.
The newspaper quoted raisins sellers on the vulnerability of the Yemeni raisin industry to the big profits made by raisin producers in China.
Raisin prices stabilized during Eid, with national raisins costing approximately 2000 YR and 3000 YR per kilo of standard and high quality raisins, respectively. These prices are very low compared to past years, when domestic raisins cost up to 5000 YR per kilo.
This pricing plunge was caused by the abundance of low-priced Chinese raisins, the best of which cost only 1300 YR per kilo.
Institutions and private associations devoted to protecting national products warn of decline in availability of domestically produced goods if Yemen continues its path of excessive import of foreign products.