Wheat flour, sugar prices up, rice market still volatile

Consumers continue to feel the heat as wheat flour and sugar prices have risen in kitchen markets, making the list of more expensive products, including rice, even longer.

Within a week the price of sugar increased from 5-7 Tk to 90-95 Tk per kg and the price of bulk wheat flour increased from 3-5 Tk to 50-55 Tk per kg. The price of rice has increased from 200 to 350 Tk per 50 kg bag.

According to data from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the prices of rice, wheat flour, flour, soybean oil, lentils, dried chillies, sugar and packaged salt have increased up 25% in the past month.

The market price is however higher than TCB’s estimate.

In markets and grocery stores in Karwan Bazar, Moghbazar, Hatirpool and Eskaton, prices of all staples have increased over the past week except for eggs and poultry.

Ali Hossain, a vendor at Yasin General Store in Karwan Bazar, said, “Within a week, the price of rice has increased by 200 to 350 Tk per bag. I bought the 50 kg bag of Miniket variety rice in bulk last week for 3,250 Tk, which has increased to 3,500 Tk this week. Rice BR-28 used to cost 2,550 Tk, now it costs 2,800 Tk.

Abu Raihan, the owner of M/S Matlab Traders in Karwan Bazar, said the rice market remains unchecked mainly because trading companies are now selling rice. By putting packaged rice on the market, they profit from 10 to 30 Tk per kg.

Mohammad Russell, who came to Karwan Bazaar from the capital’s Nakhalpara region to buy low-priced goods, said: “A year ago lentils cost Tk 70 per kg, now I have bought the same lens for 135 Tk. Our income has not increased. A year ago a family of 4 spent 10,000 Tk on food, now it costs 15,000 Tk.

Russell, a private employee, told The Business Standard: “In 2013 when I got a salary of Tk30,000 I could save Tk10,000 every month. Now I get a salary of Tk50,000 but I can’t save a penny.”

Egg and broiler prices remain stable on the market. On Friday, the eggs were selling between 120 and 130 Tk per dozen in different markets. After skyrocketing for a week, the price dropped 20-30 Tk within 10 days.

Broiler chickens sell for 175-180 Tk per kg. Two weeks ago the price of broiler chicken rose to Tk 200 per kg.

The price of green chillies also fell by 10 Tk per kg from last week as imports from India increased. It sold for between 40 and 50 Tk per kg in Karwan Bazar but the price is 80 Tk per kg in Moghbazar. A month ago, the price of green chillies was 200 taka per kg.

The price of vegetables fell by 5 to 10 Tk per kg in one week. Most vegetables are available in the market for 40-50 Tk per kg.

Sugar price up by Tk7 in Khatunganj wholesale market

The price of sugar has risen in Khatunganj, Chattogram’s biggest wholesale market.

Importers and traders said the price of raw sugar on the world market had increased due to reduced production, drought in sugar-producing countries and various countries restricting the export of their own products.

In addition, the price of the product has increased in the domestic market due to the increase in US dollar prices and the increase in regulatory fees from 20% to 30%.

In Khatunganj, the mound (37.32 kg) of sugar sells for 3,500 Tk, up from 2,700 Tk a month ago.

Traders said that the price of the product could rise further as the supply is lower than the demand.

Nurul Alam, owner of Khatunganj sugar importing company, M/s A Zaman & Brothers, said: “Brazil is the world’s largest sugar producer and exporter. Their production has dropped significantly recently and the country has imposed restrictions on exports.

According to Chittagong Customs, only 17 lakh tons of sugar were imported through the port in the last financial year, compared to 21 lakh tons in the 2020-21 financial year. The country’s main private refineries are facing a supply crisis.

Rachel J. Bradford