Yemeni markets flooded with stale food boost Houthi profits

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Markets in Houthi-controlled governorates and the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, are awash with stale food items.

Regulators constantly announce the confiscation and destruction of large quantities of expired products in Yemeni shops and markets, and bring those responsible to justice.

However, the Houthis have recently started confiscating expired products and putting them back on the market for huge financial profits.

In militia-controlled governorates, expired food products were previously sold on carts and on sidewalks or were used to produce food products suitable for consumption.

Recently, such products have been seen on supermarket shelves, although Houthi-run control authorities continuously announce that they have seized large quantities.

A Sanaa businessman told Asharq Al-Awsat that expired food items have spilled over into the market because they have become a source of profit for the Houthi militias.

He said the rebel group blackmailed shopkeepers, confiscated their goods, even if they weren’t expired, then threatened to close their shops and hold them accountable.

The businessman, who wished to remain anonymous, said that to compensate for their losses due to the measures imposed by the Houthi militia, several traders are selling expired materials instead of destroying them.

He said Yemenis buy these products knowing they are expired only to buy them at much lower prices.

Last week, Houthi media said authorities overseeing the group were controlling a company that stored expired food products before they were recycled in private factories in the capital.

Its owner was arrested with tons of expired products in five warehouses and factories.

The Houthi-run Trade and Industry Ministry said 15 brands of expired and recycled products are being sold in the local market under the names of 15 fake international and local companies and nearly 40 imitated brands.

Observers believe the expired materials are sold in poor neighborhoods, where residents are unaware of the threat they leave to their health.

A source at the ministry admitted that stale food items are flooding markets and Houthi watchdogs are allowing traders to sell stale items in exchange for turning a blind eye to the daytime sale.

The source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, claims that companies and traders who support the militias are committing these violations and harming the health of citizens without being questioned or held accountable.

He added that many outdated materials are also distributed as aid under relief programs provided by the militias to improve their image.

“The Houthi militia often exchange these expired items for relief supplies provided by foreign countries and international organizations,” the source said.


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