Im­ported Nutella, ce­real, fries, cheese run­ning out in Karachi

Daily Messenger - - Biz -

KARACHI: Been to your su­per­mar­ket re­cently and not found your fa­vorite nutella spread? You are not alone. Many con­sumers have told that they were un­able to find im­ported food items such as ce­re­als, cheese, fries and their fa­vorite choco­lates be­cause stores across Karachi are short of these im­ported items. Amar­ket sur­vey in­di­cates some stores may run out of these stocks soon if the dol­lar rises fur­ther.

Sup­pli­ers (traders) of im­ported food have not been able to buy in bulk be­cause of higher du­ties and a steep surge in the dol­lar price that has jolted their fi­nan­cial po­si­tion. This is what emerged in back­ground in­ter­views with in­dus­try sources, peo­ple in­volved in the sup­ply chain, im­porters and man­age­ment staff of su­per­mar­kets. In fact, some small sup­pli­ers have gone out of busi­ness re­cently and the im­port of these items at some stores, such as Im­tiaz Su­per Mar­ket (ISM), the largest in the city, has been dis­turbed.

“Ev­ery­thing [im­ported food] from A to Z has be­come ex­pen­sive and is in short sup­ply,” a staffer from ISM said. That in­cludes juices, drinks, choco­lates, cheese and ce­re­als etc., he said. “Our im­ports are dis­turbed and this has been go­ing on for three months.”

He said some of these items are still avail­able be­cause some ship­ments were cleared re­cently. But, he added that the sup­plies will stay un­even if the dol­lar re­mains at the same level and the sit­u­a­tion may worsen if the dol­lar in­creases fur­ther.

“Du­ties for some items have more than dou­bled while the dol­lar ap­pre­ci­a­tion has had a big im­pact as well, mak­ing these items very ex­pen­sive to im­port in bulk. Not ev­ery­one has this much cash in hand,” he said.

In mid-Oc­to­ber the gov­ern­ment had in­creased im­port du­ties on 570 food items, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to milk and cream

(25%), whey pow­der (25%), cheese (50%), cho­co­late

(30%), and fruit juices

(60%). On the other hand, the dol­lar rose sharply, mov­ing from Rs128 when the new gov­ern­ment came in power to Rs139 as of Thurs­day. This made bulk im­ports more ex­pen­sive for traders. For ISM, gro­cery ac­counts for 25% of the im­ported items they sell.

“There is a big sup­ply and de­mand gap in the mar­ket be­cause of higher du­ties and a stronger dol­lar,” said an in­dus­try source with vast ex­pe­ri­ence in sup­ply chain man­age­ment. Ex­plain­ing the short­age, he said these gro­cery stores used to have three months of im­ports as buf­fer stock to fill in this gap and main­tain sup­ply all the time. How­ever, that buf­fer is not there any­more.

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