Supermarkets are completely unjustified in increasing the price of lamb ahead of the Christmas holidays, a commerce ministry official charged on Wednesday, amid lowered prices across the board for food items.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, senior officer at the competition department Aliki Iordanou said this year’s cost of a Christmas meal is affordable across all budgets.

Citing inspections carried out on December 11 and 12, she said the price of vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, greens and meats has gone down.

“Where meat is concerned, it appears that prices are contained but lamb appears to be an exception, because some supermarkets increased their prices for the holidays. This increase in unjustified because there is no shortage of lamb on the market.”

Iordanou added that 28 of the 45 products the department is monitoring, there has been a steep decline in prices. In 10 products out of 28 the decrease is more than 3 per cent.

For vegetables the decrease amounts to 8 per cent, fresh fish and molluscs 10.4 per cent, vegetable cooking fat at 14.8 per cent, frozen fish at 9.1 per cent, frozen molluscs-shellfish at 6.5 per cent, Cypriot coffee 3.7 per cent, instant coffee 4.9 per cent, flour 4.5 per cent, sugar 1.7 per cent, laundry detergent 3.3 per cent and toilet paper 3 per cent, she listed.

“The decline is reflected in the reduction in price inflation and the reduction in overall inflation which reached 1.7 per cent in November compared to 3.5 points in October and 4 points in September,” she said.

“Also, the reduction in energy costs, the reduction in oil prices which has an impact on the operating costs of businesses and distribution costs led to the reductions seen in the retail market.”

She pointed out that the reductions will continue since the European Central Bank as well as the US Federal Reserve in their last meetings did not raise interest rates and also because the oil price is maintained at $75 per barrel.

For its part, the Cyprus Consumers’ Association chairman Marios Drousiotis told the Cyprus News Agency it is continuing its research on market prices and that it will issue a statement on Thursday on the cost of the Christmas table.

“The general impression is that this year’s Christmas table will be better than last year’s, more affordable.”