Onion prices still high, edible oil, sugar see price hike

A man sorts imported onionsFile photo

Refiners increased the prices of edible oil and sugar due to rise in the exchange rate of dollars at a time when prices of onions remain out of customers’ reach.

In Dhaka, local varieties of onions were sold at Tk 200 a kg and imported Indian onions at Tk 180 a kg on Monday, while locally produced newly arrived (murukata) onions were sold at Tk 120-130 a kg, but it had no impact on the soaring price.

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In the meantime, edible oil and sugar refining companies increased the prices of soybean oil by Tk 4 a litre and packet sugar by Tk 13 a kg.

Edible oil and sugar wholesale traders and dealers said companies started rising prices two weeks ago, but they started supplying products with revised prices 3-4 days ago. Price of a 5-litre soybean oil bottle has rose to Tk 845 from Tk 825 while prices of loose soybean oil increased to Tk 152-153 a litre from Tk 147-148 a litre.

Prices of loose sugar increased to Tk 145-150 a kg from Tk 130 a kg and packet sugar to Tk 148 a kg from Tk 135 a kg.

According to Monday’s price list of the state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), prices of loose and bottled soybean increased by 1 per cent on that day.

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On 14 September, companies revised the edible oil price in consultation with the commerce ministry, dropping the price of bottled soybean oil by Tk 5 a litre to Tk 169. According to government sources, traders made a proposal to the government in mid-November to revise the prices of edible oil and sugar. At that time, traders proposed to set the exchange rate at Tk 125 a dollar, but the government suggested Tk 112 a dollar. As their discussions reached no decision, companies started supplying products at a price, which they fixed.

Commence secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh told Prothom Alo, “We have learned about the price hike by companies. We will sit with traders on edible and sugar prices.”

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About onions, this senior government official said 52,000 tonnes of onions will arrive from India under the previously opened LCs (letters of credit), and 350 tonnes already arrived yesterday, Monday. Besides, about 4,000 tonnes of onion will be imported by the TCB, he added.

Meanwhile, the Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection continued to raid the markets to check soaring onion prices. The agency fined 122 traders and companies Tk 821,000 on Monday. A total of 355 traders and companies were fined Tk 2.16 million across the country over the past three days.

Bangladesh leads in onion import

According to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh imported a staggering 727,000 tonnes of onions in 2022, surpassing all other nations in onion imports for that year.

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According to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade), the United States follows Bangladesh as the second-largest importer with 660,000 tonnes, and Malaysia is the third largest importer of the kitchen item with an import of 525,000 tonnes that year.

According to NBR, the country has imported a humongous 864,000 tonnes of onion in the first 11 months of this year.

It is perceived that Bangladesh will be at the top of onion import at the end of 2023.