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Archive: April 2008
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Sharp Hikes in the Price of Staple Breads in the Capital
04/16/2008 06:21 AM ET
Auto fuel (ID/liter)
5-Apr 12-Apr
Baghdad al-Jadida 700 700
Sadr City 700 700
Karrada 750 750
Kadhimiya 700 700
Mansour 800 800
Ghazaliya 750 750
Sha'b 750 750
Hay al-'Amil 800 800
Harthiya 800 800

IraqSlogger's latest survey of the price of key consumer commodities in Baghdad shows spikes in the price of two staple breads, which had been virtually unchanged in price since the summer of 2007.

The price hikes of the two key breads, khubuz and samoun, were reported in nearly all of the nine disparate districts where IraqSlogger's sources track prices each week. The double-digit jumps, as high as 75% in one place, are even more striking given that the reported prices of cigarettes, auto fuel, and cooking gas were unchanged in all nine districts in the most recent report, for the week ending April 12.

As the table below shows, the flatbread khubuz saw 50% price hikes in six sample areas, including points in all four quadrants of the capital. Remarkably, khubuz prices were reported unchanged in Sadr City, in which heavy fighting between elements of the Mahdi Army militia and US-Iraqi forces has continued sporadically for more than two weeks. Baghdad al-Jadida, another eastern Baghdad Mahdi Army stronghold, saw khubuz prices jump by 25%. The price of this bread was also reported unchanged in the central Karrada district.

On the other hand, the price of Samoun, a thicker bread which might be used to make sandwiches, jumped by 75% in Sadr City, the highest reported percentage change this week. The central districts of Harthiya and Mansour, west of the Tigris, each saw samoun prices climb by 43% in the last week. The rest of the sampled areas of the city reported increases of 14% to 16%, apart from Ghazaliya, where IraqSlogger's sources report no change in the price of samoun.

It is unclear at this time what is driving the sudden spike in bread prices in the Iraqi capital.

As noted in last week's report, the stability in prices in other commodities across the city is remarkable in itself, given the continuing siege and fighting in Sadr City and other parts of eastern Baghdad.

For all of IraqSlogger's exclusive price check reporting click here, and see a map of the nine Baghdad districts where Slogger's sources track prices each week here.

Marlboros (ID/carton)

5-Apr 12-Apr
Baghdad al-Jadida 16000 16000
Sadr City 16000 16000
Karrada 18500 18500
Kadhimiya 18000 18000
Mansour 18000 18000
Ghazaliya 18000 18000
Sha'b 18000 18000
Hay al-'Amil 18000 18000
Harthiya 18000 18000

Cooking gas (ID/cylinder)

5-Apr 12-Apr
Baghdad al-Jadida 14000 14000
Sadr City 10000 10000
Karrada 18000 18000
Kadhimiya 18000 18000
Mansour 18000 18000
Ghazaliya 16000 16000
Sha'b 16000 16000
Hay al-'Amil 16000 16000
Harthiya 16000 16000

Khubuz bread (ID/piece)

5-Apr 12-Apr Percent change
Baghdad al-Jadida 100 125 25.0%
Sadr City 100 100
Karrada 125 125
Kadhimiya 100 150 50.0%
Mansour 100 150 50.0%
Ghazaliya 100 150 50.0%
Sha'b 100 150 50.0%
Hay al-'Amil 100 150 50.0%
Harthiya 100 150 50.0%

Samoun bread (ID/piece)

5-Apr 12-Apr Percent change
Baghdad al-Jadida 175 200 14.3%
Sadr City 100 175 75.0%
Karrada 175 200 14.3%
Kadhimiya 175 200 14.3%
Mansour 175 250 42.9%
Ghazaliya 200 200
Sha'b 150 175 16.7%
Hay al-'Amil 175 200 14.3%
Harthiya 175 250 42.9%
A Porous Curfew? Despite Siege, Sadr City Prices Remained Stable
04/11/2008 3:10 PM ET
Marlboros (ID/carton)

15-Mar 22-Mar 5-Apr
Baghdad al-Jadida 16000 16000 16000
Sadr City 16000 16000 16000
Karrada 18500 18500 18500
Kadhimiya 18000 18000 18000
Mansour 18000 18000 18000
Ghazaliya 18000 18000 18000
Sha'b 18000 18000 18000
Hay al-'Amil 18000 18000 18000
Harthiya 18000 18000 18000

The eastern Baghdad district of Sadr City has seen siege, curfew and bloody conflict for over two weeks, but IraqSlogger sources report that the restrictions and fighting curiously have not caused prices to spike in the Mahdi Army militia stronghold. In fact, as of last weekend, IraqSlogger's data show that prices have even dropped to the lowest levels in the city for one some of the black-market commodities for which Slogger tracks the prices across Baghdad.

The tables above and below show data from the last three Baghdad price check reports, generated for the weeks ending March 15, March 22, and April 5. Data was delayed over the last few weeks due to the fighting and security measures in the capital, and security conditions including a city-wide curfew prevented IraqSlogger from gathering its price check data for the week ending March 29.

Prices of two stable breads, khubuz and samoun, remained stable across the city for all three samples, as did the prices of Marlboro cigarettes, even in areas such as Sadr City and Kadhimiya where extended curfews were applied. Black-market fuel prices fluctuated, as the data show, but what is perhaps most remarkable is what did not happen: In Sadr City, the epicenter of the unrest in Baghdad that erupted after Iraqi forces moved against what appeared to be Mahdi Army elements in Basra, prices did not spike sharply for the key fuels that Slogger tracks, and residents do not report shortages of key commodities.

In fact, the black-market price of cooking gas, used in food preparation, had dropped in Sadr City to be the lowest per-cylinder rate of the nine districts where Slogger sources gather the weekly data. Even more remarkable, the rest of the capital saw increases in cooking-gas prices during the first week of April, while only Sadr City and Baghdad al-Jadida saw decreases.

A slightly different, but nonetheless remarkable, pattern obtains for the price of gasoline: The capital saw a city-wide rise in black-market auto fuel prices for the week ending March 22, just prior to the outbreak of major hostilities and the imposition of curfews in the following week. For the week ending April 5, prices eased across the capital in all areas except Sadr City and Baghdad al-Jadida, where prices remained stable, in spite of continuing fighting and siege.

When IraqSlogger asked several merchants and consumers in Sadr City for follow-up explanation about why prices did not spike in the face of curfew and siege, many responded that stores were in fact able to resupply their stocks even though vehicle movement was not technically allowed by Iraqi and US authorities. Merchants declined to give specifics of their supply chain operations under curfew, although eyewitnesses have described sections of the perimeter of the district where vehicles have been able to enter and exit during the last two weeks.

In spite of the missing data for the week ending March 29, residents of Sadr City report informally that prices did not spike in Sadr City during the last week of March.

The curfew was lifted on the rest of the capital but remained in effect in Sadr City, Shu'la and Kadhimiya. Similar price stability was also reported in Kadhimiya, which remained under curfew until last Thursday.

Across the city, the price of auto fuel and cooking gas remain well above the officially set rates of 400 ID/liter and 4000 ID/cylinder, respectively. The commodities are generally unavailable at these prices, forcing consumers to turn to the black market for these common energy needs.

Stay tuned for more the next price check report from Baghdad and see all of IraqSlogger's exclusive price check reporting here. For IraqSlogger's exclusive eyewitness reports from inside Sadr City and eastern Baghdad during the last two weeks of hostilities, see here and here.

Auto fuel (ID/liter)

15-Mar 22-Mar 5-Apr
Baghdad al-Jadida 600 700 700
Sadr City 600 700 700
Karrada 700 900 750
Kadhimiya 700 900 700
Mansour 800 900 800
Ghazaliya 800 900 750
Sha'b 700 900 750
Hay al-'Amil 800 900 800
Harthiya 800 900 800

Cooking gas (ID/cylinder)

15-Mar 22-Mar 5-Apr
Baghdad al-Jadida 16000 18000 14000
Sadr City 11000 12000 10000
Karrada 15000 16000 18000
Kadhimiya 14000 14000 18000
Mansour 16000 16000 18000
Ghazaliya 16000 14000 16000
Sha'b 16000 14000 16000
Hay al-'Amil 14000 14000 16000
Harthiya 15000 16000 16000

Khubuz bread (ID/piece)

15-Mar 22-Mar 5-Apr
Baghdad al-Jadida 175 175 175
Sadr City 100 100 100
Karrada 175 175 175
Kadhimiya 175 175 175
Mansour 175 175 175
Ghazaliya 200 200 200
Sha'b 150 150 150
Hay al-'Amil 175 175 175
Harthiya 175 175 175

Samoun bread (ID/piece)

15-Mar 22-Mar 5-Apr
Baghdad al-Jadida 100 100 100
Sadr City 100 100 100
Karrada 125 125 125
Kadhimiya 100 100 100
Mansour 100 100 100
Ghazaliya 100 100 100
Sha'b 100 100 100
Hay al-'Amil 100 100 100
Harthiya 100 100 100

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