Falafelnomics: Jordanian consumers cry foul over bloated falafel prices

Falafelnomics: Jordanian consumers cry foul over bloated falafel prices
2 min read
10 February, 2016
Falling oil prices, lower taxes and a dramatic drop in the cost of ingredients means restaurants should charge less for falafel and staple foods in Jordan, says a consumer watchdog.
A Falafel Price Index has been proposed to measure Middle Eastern purchasing power [AFP]

Jordan's Consumer Protection Society has called on the kingdom's government to compel restaurants selling staple Levantine foods, such as falafel and hummus, to reduce their prices, citing the dramatic drop in the cost of ingredients used in their preparation.

In statements to local press published on Tuesday, the head of the CPS said the price of these ingredients has decreased by up to 20 percent, calling on restaurants exempted from sales tax to lower the prices of what he said were basic meals for most Jordanians.

The cost of olive oil, tahini, fava beans, ground foul and chickpeas have seen a "dramatic decrease", the CPS president said.

Cooking gas has also dropped in price amid falling oil prices globally, as well as the costs of containers, electricity and even government fees.

The consumer protection watchdog pointed out that in many of these restaurants, Syrian and Egyptian workers are hired instead of Jordanians to reduce labour cost, citing this as an additional reason to cut prices.

Falafel, hummus and foul (fava beans), delicacies outside the Middle East, are staple foods in the region offering a good supply of proteins at a relatively low price

Falafel and hummus are a daily food for low-income segments that cannot afford meat often. They are also suitable for vegetarians.

Pulse-based foods are also rich in fibre, have high levels of minerals such as iron, zinc, and phosphorous as well as folate and other B-vitamins, and are unique foods in their ability to reduce the environmental footprint of grocery carts.

Given how many ingredients and raw materials go into the making of one falafel patty, some have suggested a Falafel Index as a way to measure inflation and purchasing power in the Middle East.

The Falafel Index is inspired by the Big Mac Index – now a golden standard for measuring purchasing power– with falafelnomics having a more Middle Eastern focus.

This index determines the purchasing power of different currencies by comparing the prices of McDonald’s signature hamburger in various countries.