ALGIERS, July 23 (Xinhua) -- A consumer rights association in Algeria launched a campaign to boycott red and white meat in protest of soaring prices, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan.
The boycott is set to last a week, said Chief Executive of Algerian Consumer Federation Mohamed Toumi, initiator of the campaign.
"After the boycott call of red and white meat between July 10 and 16, we intend to launch another boycott campaign to target other soaring-price products, such as zucchini and dried vegetables such as chickpeas," Toumi told Xinhua.
Turnout of the first boycott was around 30 percent, Toumi estimated, but his federation aims to hit 50 or 60 percent turnout in the second boycott campaign to be launched next week.
Currently, chicken is sold at 350 to 400 Algerian Dinars (4.2 to 4.8 U.S. dollars) per kilo, compared to 200 Dinars (2.4 dollars) a week earlier. Mutton and beef are sold at 1100 Dinars (13.2 dollars) to 1500 Dinars (18 dollars) per kilo, beyond the reach of the North African country's middle class.
As for vegetables, tomatoes are sold at 80 Dinars (0.96 dollars) , doubled the price of last week. Zucchini is sold at 120 Dinars ( 1.44 dollars) per kilo, compared to 50 Dinars (0.6 dollars) a week earlier.
Toumi said the price-soaring in Ramadan is mostly due to the " absence of public authorities" which are supposed to prevent food prices from going too far.
He also slammed go-between sellers who speculate on prices. " Stockbreeders told us that their prices are set between 400 and 500 Dinars per kilogram of meat. Yet, at the butchery, this same meat is offered at more than 800 Dinars."
"The problem lies in the lack of market regulation," Mohand Amokrane Nouad, expert on agriculture and agro-food, told Xinhua.
However, Nouad cast doubt on the efficiency of the boycott. " Such a boycott campaign could only be efficient when it is initiated by an association that represents the population, but I' m afraid that is not the case with the so-called Algerian Consumer Federation," which was registered late November 2011.
In an attempt to curb high prices during Ramadan, Algerian government has authorized public and private operators to import some 10,000 tons of frozen red and white meat, to be added to 10, 000 tons of meat already stocked.
A report issued by the Customs' National Office of Statistics ( ONS) shows that consumer prices in Algeria increased by 8.7 percent in June, compared with the same period in 2011, resulting in an annual inflation rate of 7.3 percent compared to 6.9 percent in May. The increase was mainly driven by the 10.76-percent rise of food prices.