Sugar prices soar for supply shortage
Sugar prices have risen at wholesale and retail markets in Dhaka and Chattogram due to an ongoing supply crunch.
The sweetener is currently selling for Tk 135 to Tk 142 per kilogramme (kg) even though the government had set the price at Tk 104 about one month back.
Sugar went for between Tk 112 and Tk 115 in April, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
As such, the price has increased by 22 per cent or Tk 23 per kg over the past month.
Several retailers say there was no sugar at their shops for the last four-five days due to reduced supply since before Eid-ul-Fitr.
The supply fell as raw sugar prices in the global market have surged to near 40-year highs on fears of lower production in several exporting countries, including India, Brazil and Argentina.
The global market price of sugar has affected the country's market and importers had to reduce their shipments in fear of unstable prices, they said.
During a visit to markets in different areas of Chattogram and Dhaka yesterday, it was seen that traders are blaming reduced supply for increased prices.
It was found that sugar was selling for between Tk 135 and Tk 140 per kg at only four of 12 shops in the Kazir Deuri market of Chattogram city.
Meanwhile, the sweetener was available at just three of seven shops at Karwan Bazar, the largest kitchen market in Dhaka.
Alam Hossain, a wholesaler based in Kazir Deuri, said he currently receives only two sacks of sugar each week against a demand of 20 to 25 sacks, weighing 50 kgs in total.
"As a result, there was no sugar at my shop for the last four days," he added.
Hossain then said the sugar price increased as refiners have reduced supply.
The product is now selling for Tk 4,600 to Tk 4,650 per maund (37.32 kg) while it was Tk 4,000 a week before Eid, he added.
Monwar Hossain, owner of Yasin General Store in Karwan Bazar, said many buyers do not want to buy sugar if the retail price is higher than that fixed by the government. So, he has stopped selling loose sugar since Eid.
In a letter to the commerce ministry, the Bangladesh Sugar Refiners Association yesterday said that the international price of sugar has risen to $675 from $520 per tonne in the last one month.
However, the price of loose sugar has not seen a proportionate increase in the domestic market. And as the international price of sugar has reached record highs, the association members are suffering from their indecision on importing sugar.
The association also urged the government to take appropriate steps on the import of raw sugar.
"We are regularly supplying sugar to the market," said SM Mujibur Rahman, head of accounts at Meghna Group of Industries, one of the biggest commodity importers and processors.
However, he refused to comment on the sugar shortage or if it is being sold at prices higher than that set by the government.
According to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), sugar imports dropped by about 25 per cent, or 2.29 lakh tonnes, in the first four months of the year compared to the same period of 2022.
The country's annual demand for sugar is 25 lakh tonnes but domestic production can supply only 1 lakh tonnes while the rest comes from abroad.