Edible oil price spiral

Edible oil market remained unstable for the past couple of days amid a shortage of supply, forcing consumers to pay between Tk 10 and Tk 12 higher for each litre of packed soybean oil.

Yesterday, many retailers were selling between Tk 560 and Tk 570 for a 5-litre bottle of the edible oil, while the labels on the bottles quoted the maximum retail price at Tk 510. They claimed that the prices of packed soybean oil increased by Tk 10 to Tk 12 per litre.

Prices of loose soybean oil however remained stable at Tk 103 to Tk 107 during the same period, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).

The latest spike in the prices of bottled cooking oil came after the prices of loose edible oil had crossed the prices of packed ones by the end of last week, breaking the common trend of packed edible oil being costlier than the loose ones.

“There is a short supply of bottled oil. Refineries have cut down supply. We are collecting edible oil packs from large stores at higher prices,”

Some refiners admitted that they reduced supply claiming the present prices, fixed by the government in December last year, are now less than their cost, which has been rising due to soaring prices of cooking oil on the international market amid concerns of crop losses due to unfavourable weather in oil seed growing areas.

Refiners said the government promised them of revising the prices every 15 days in light of the trend on the world market, as Bangladesh meets nearly 80 percent of its annual demand for cooking oil through imports.

But it has yet to reset new prices, although a month and a half has passed, since the last time it fixed the prices.

Meanwhile, refiners informed the government that their current cost is Tk 113 for each litre of soybean oil.

The delay in re-fixing the price has caused the refiners to cut down supply to the market, creating scope for middlemen in the supply chain to charge prices at their whims.

It means that the prices of 5-litre packs will stand at Tk 560 to Tk 570 after the spike. They however added that the supply side will normalise after the price hike.

Further more devaluation of taka against dollar is causing them to pay more for imports.

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