Restaurants in Kuwait hiked their prices recently, owing to increase in prices of commodities amidst the war in Ukraine.
The prices of commodities, particularly that of wheat and cooking oil have shot up. But, according to Consumer Protection Association (CPA), a restaurant is allowed to only increase prices equivalent to the increase in price of a commodity.
“Restaurants are allowed to increase prices of certain dishes in case the prices of raw materials they use in the dish have increased. So, for instance, if the price of oil rises by 20 percent, they can only increase the price of fries by 20 percent (from say 500 fils to 600 fils). But, if the restaurant hikes prices higher than this rate, they can be penalized,” said Mishal Al-Manea, President of CPA, when speaking to local media.
The exception is for falafel (100 fils) and omelet (120 fils) sandwiches. These sandwiches are expected to maintain their price irrespective of any increase in prices of raw materials. However, the restaurant can sell a special form of these sandwiches with more stuffings, such as super falafel or extra ojja, but, is obliged to provide basic sandwich, Manea explained.
Any changes in the activity or a restaurant meal, is dependent on the classification of a restaurant’s commercial license. For instance, a snack restaurant cannot remove the falafel or ojja sandwich from their menu. However, if the restaurant’s license is a general one, they can stop selling these sandwiches. The restaurant is also allowed to change their concept (such as Arabic to Chinese cuisine), and it does not require ministry’s approval, he explained.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has special department for evaluating and inspecting prices at restaurants. The inspectors here go on regular inspections in all governorates and do price surveys of the restaurant menus.
Even if a restaurant raises prices as per increase of prices of commodities, once the price of commodity drops, the restaurant is supposed to drop their prices too, Manea emphasized.
Apart from restaurants, the inspectors also monitor prices at supermarkets and co-ops. In this case, the ministry has suggested an alternative solution to protect the consumer against price hikes. The suppliers can display their goods without displaying the extra fee that they now pay to the co-ops. They will also not be obligated to give freebies to the co-op. This will be a relief to trader from incurring additional expenses, and will balance out the increase of prices in the country of origin, Manea said.