Despite a drop in chicken prices, Fast food prices remain fixed in Latakia

The price of a crispy chicken sandwich in Latakia ranges from 27,000 to 35,000 Syrian Pounds - March 8, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Linda Ali)

The price of a crispy chicken sandwich in Latakia ranges from 27,000 to 35,000 Syrian Pounds - March 8, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Linda Ali)


Latakia – Linda Ali

Fast food prices in Latakia have not been affected by the reduction in the price of chicken, which dropped from 42,000 to 34,000 Syrian pounds per kilo of live chicken, and have continued at their pre-drop prices. Meanwhile, many are complaining that fast food restaurants raise prices as soon as chicken prices increase, but they do not reduce them when prices fall.

Ammar, a 21-year-old civil engineering student in his third year at Tishreen University living in the university dorms, expressed his surprise that meal prices had not decreased despite the fall in chicken prices. He thought about buying a shawarma sandwich, believing its price would have decreased, but when he found out that its price still stood at 20,000 Syrian pounds, he decided to purchase a chicken thigh, fry it with some lemon and oil, as he only paid 13,000 Syrian pounds for the thigh.

Ammar added that the meal he made was satisfying, whereas he would have needed at least two shawarma sandwiches to satiate his hunger.

The price of a kilo of chicken wings and thighs dropped to 35,000 Syrian pounds, down from 45,000, chicken breasts to 60,000 after being 74,000, and wings to 33,000 down from 42,000, with some variation in prices between different sellers.

Sandwich prices are steady

On a tour of some fast food shops on the Food Street in the al-Zira’a neighborhood and Sheikh Daher Square in Latakia city, the price of a crispy chicken sandwich ranges between 27,000 and 35,000 Syrian pounds, shawarma between 17,000 and 22,000, shish sandwich between 26,000 and 34,000, and chicken burger between 19,000 and 25,000.

Nada, a 32-year-old government employee living in the suburb of Bisnada, bemoaned the lack of decrease in shawarma prices, one of the most preferred foods especially among children. She had promised her two children would have sandwiches but was surprised to find the price had not dropped.

The lady bought a thigh and half a chicken breast, paying 29,000 Syrian pounds for them. She prepared a special marinade for them after deboning, placed them in the oven, and prepared shawarma sandwiches for the family, adding homemade fried potatoes and garlic cream.

She said that the result was six sandwiches, just with chicken for her children, while she and her husband had the fried potatoes. The sandwiches cost her no more than 45,000 Syrian pounds, which would not even cover the cost of three small-sized sandwiches from fast food shops, which she described as mere “hunger pacifiers.”

Syrians live in a deteriorated economic and living reality, with the government minimum wage in regime-controlled areas at about 279,000 Syrian pounds (one US dollar equals 14,650 Syrian pounds), while the average cost of living is more than 10.3 million Syrian pounds, and the minimum living cost at 6.5 million Syrian pounds.

Quantity is little

The majority of customers at fast food outlets complain about the small quantity of chicken in the sandwiches; the crispy coating, which consists of flour and water is often more than the meat itself, and in shawarma, the amount of bread is so much that some can hardly taste the usual shawarma meat flavor.

A shish sandwich contains only four small chicken pieces, with an abundance of fried potatoes and cabbage salad, inside a medium-sized bun.

Zeinab, a 28-year-old graduate living in Qneines neighborhood, believes that the lack of oversight has resulted in price increases and a failure to regulate fast food merchants, who find no one to hold them accountable when prices are raised, and there is no one to monitor them when they do not lower them even as prices of their ingredients fall.

She mentioned that even the price of vegetable oils has decreased from 29,000 to 22,000 Syrian pounds per liter recently, and that fast food shops buy it cheaper than that as they purchase in wholesale quantities, yet the prices of crispy chicken remained unchanged despite the fall in the price of its two main components, chicken, and oils.

Ghadeer, a 24-year-old who works at a fast food shop on the Food Street in Latakia city, said that prices have not dropped and are not expected to drop in the foreseeable future, although there are offers some shops started to announce, such as a shawarma sandwich with every two other types of meals.

Even though he does not know why prices have not dropped since he does not have direct contact with the owner of the fast food shop he works at, Ghadeer believes the reason is the lack of confidence in the stability of chicken prices, and therefore the shop might lose customers if prices fluctuate constantly.

According to a previous report by Enab Baladi about the variation of commodity prices in Latakia and the absence of oversight, shop owners in the markets of Latakia do not fear the regulatory monitoring and are often satisfied with paying a bribe to the supply controller, allowing them to set their prices as they wish.

The biggest burden remains on the citizens, being the weakest party, who are looking for solutions to pull them out of successive crises. Syria is among the six countries suffering from the highest rates of food insecurity in the world, with 12.9 million people in Syria, more than half the population, experiencing food insecurity. Additionally, over 90% of the population lives below the poverty line, according to UN data.


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