Meat prices are up 25 per cent compared with the Easter holiday period last year but Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos said on Thursday he cannot interfere with the laws of the market.

Speaking during his visit at supermarkets to check the quality of foodstuff available over the Easter holidays, the minister said the quality and quantity of products available on the market were at satisfactory levels.

Commenting on the prices a day after the consumer protection service issued a report showing significant increases, Xenophontos noted that those are determined by the law of the market.

“There is supply and demand and they determine the prices,” he said.

But he added that vegetable prices were “satisfactory and much lower” compared to the previous year.

He confirmed that many checks have been carried out to ensure that consumers are given products that are safe to eat.

Wine products were also inspected Xenophontos said and urged consumers to support local products.

According to the minister, people buy vegetables, fruit and meat and purchases will continue in the coming days with a peak on Holy Saturday.

The minister was accompanied by the permanent secretary of the ministry and the directors of the veterinary services and the department of agriculture.

For his part, veterinary services director Christodoulos Pipis said there was a slight decrease in animal slaughtering this year.

“However, taking into account the movements that have taken place from European Union countries, we are almost at the same level as last year in terms of the number of animals slaughtered and the number of slaughterhouses,” he said.

About 25,000 ruminants have been slaughtered and another 2,750 were imported from European Union countries to meet the market need, Pipis noted. He added that slaughtering will continue until Holy Saturday, which will meet the needs of the people in view of the Easter table.

Market inspections have been intensified as of April 8 and will continue until the 22nd of the month, Pipis said, to ensure that appropriate and safe products are made available for consumption and to prevent any unfair practices in the market.

So far, two withdrawals have been carried out, one concerned a slaughtered animal due to injuries while two more slaughtered animals were seized from a specific butcher shop for failing to mark them properly.