Food prices crawl up ahead of Pak­istan’s mini-bud­get

Gulf Times Business - - BUSINESS -

Re­tail­ers have pushed up prices of es­sen­tial food items in­clud­ing sugar and veg­eta­bles prices ahead of the mini-bud­get which will be an­nounced by the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan on Jan­uary 23.

Sugar now costs Rs60 per kg ver­sus Rs55 per kg a few days ago fol­low­ing an in­crease in the whole­sale price to Rs5758 per kg from Rs55 per kg. Two months ago, the whole­sale price of sugar was Rs52-53 per kg.

Re­tail­ers with old stocks of sweet­ener are now tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the fresh price hike in whole­sale mar­kets and are de­mand­ing Rs5 per kg more from con­sumers.

Pa­tron-in-chief Karachi Whole­salers Gro­cers As­so­ci­a­tion ( KWGA) Anis Ma­jeed said the is­sue of late cane crush­ing and re­ports of low sug­ar­cane crop can be blamed for the re­cent price hike.

The price may re­main un­der pres­sure as a num­ber of mills have yet to start cane crush­ing over price dis­pute, he said. How­ever, he ruled out any short­age of sugar in the whole­sale mar­ket.

Ma­jeed feared fur­ther price shocks in case the gov­ern­ment raises im­port du­ties on raw ma­te­ri­als and fin­ished items in the mini bud­get.

Pak­istan’s sugar ex­ports plunged to 182,142 tonnes ($55.5mn) in 5MFY19 from 320,593 tonnes ($129mn) in same pe­riod last year. In FY18, sugar ex­ports swelled to $1.469mn tonnes ($508mn) from 307,348 tonnes ($161mn) in FY17. Sugar pro­duc­tion fell by seven% to 6.565mn tonnes in FY18 from 7.048mn tonnes in FY17.

The price of Nes­tle tea whitener 950gm pack went up to Rs865 from Rs825 while 375gm pack now costs Rs425 as against Rs400. The com­pany did not men­tion any rea­son of price rise in a let­ter is­sued to re­tail­ers.

De­spite the on­go­ing win­ter sea­son, soft drink man­u­fac­tur­ers have also in­creased the prices of bev­er­ages.

The price of one litre and 1.5 litre cola bot­tles pro­duced by two main bev­er­age mak­ers surged by Rs5 per bot­tle, fol­lowed by Rs10 in­crease for jumbo bot­tles.

Not to be left out, veg­etable re­tail­ers are mak­ing huge wind­falls by charg­ing over 100% profit from con­sumers on whole­sale rates.

The re­tail price of onion is now Rs30 per kgm from Rs25 per kg ear­lier on. In Sabzi Mandi, whole­sale price of onion hov­ers be­tween Rs10-15 per kg.

The same sit­u­a­tion ex­ists for potato. The re­tail price of the root veg­etable has been raised to Rs30 per kg from Rs20 per kg, while its whole­sale price hov­ers be­tween Rs10-12 per kg.

Toma­toes can now be pur­chased only at Rs40 per kg, which was sell­ing at Rs20-30 per kg. Its whole­sale price is Rs20-25 per kg.

Pres­i­dent Falahi An­ju­man Whole­sale Veg­etable Mar­ket New Sabzi Mandi Su­per High­way Haji Shah­je­han said re­tail­ers are de­priv­ing con­sumers from tak­ing ben­e­fit of low rates of Sindh’s onion and tomato crop and Pun­jab’s potato crop.

Trans­porta­tion charges have def­i­nitely in­creased due to Rs23 per kg hike in CNG rates cou­pled with diesel and LPG prices which have pushed up the cost of liv­ing for ev­ery­one, he said.

Cu­cum­ber and tur­rai now sell at Rs80 per kg which were priced Rs4050 per kg. Lokki and tin­day are now avail­able at Rs60 and Rs80 per kg as against Rs40 per kg each few days back.

Shimla mirch (cap­sicum) prices moved up to Rs80 from Rs60 per kg. Bhindi (lady fin­ger) is avail­able at Rs120 as against Rs80 per kg.

A re­tailer said tomato prices are ris­ing as the veg­etable could not ripe due to low tem­per­a­tures. As a re­sult, un­ripe toma­toes are be­ing sold in the mar­ket in larger quan­ti­ties.

A ven­dor ar­ranges toma­toes at a veg­etable mar­ket in Karachi (file). Toma­toes can now be pur­chased only at Rs40 per kg, which was sell­ing at Rs20-30 per kg. Its whole­sale price is Rs20-25 per kg.

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