Wholesale prices of commodities witnessed a drastic fall at the Khatunganj wholesale hub in Chattogram in the last two days amid adequate supply and a drop in demand as the fear over coronavirus outbreak has kept customers at bay.
But the decline in the wholesale prices has barely put an impact on the kitchen markets, customers said.
Wholesale traders were seen selling different varieties of Indian onion for Tk 30 to Tk 40 a kg yesterday, a drop from Tk 60 last week.
Chinese garlic was selling for Tk 125 to Tk 130 a kg, down from Tk 160 a week ago. However, lentil and edible oil prices remained stable.
But, the scenario was totally different last week, when retail traders rushed to purchase commodities in bulk to cash in on the panic buying in the kitchen markets.
"Prices of every commodity as well as our sales had soared last week due to a rise in demand amid poor supply," said Md Idris, general secretary of Hamidullah Miah Market Traders Association.
Hamidullah Miah Market has warehouses of onion, garlic, ginger and others, where Idris also works as a commission agent.
Khatunganj is now fully packed with different types of commodities but the number of buyers has dropped drastically.
Idris believes the prices would decrease further, as most of the items in the market are perishable.
The wholesale price of soybean oil has remained stable at Tk 3,250 to Tk 3,300 a maund (37.32kg) for the last 15 days.
Sugar prices, however, increased by Tk 2 to Tk 59 a kg on Wednesday, within a span of eight days.
"Prices of sweetener fell eight days ago because of a fall in global markets. But its increased demand fuelled prices again," said Shahedul Alam, a wholesale trader.
Prices of big-sized lentil from Australia and Canada rose by Tk 6 a kg to reach Tk 60 last week and has remained stable since then.
Lentil processing mills are suffering from a labour crisis now as many workers had left for village homes due to the panic over coronavirus, said Solaiman Badsha, a lentil trader.
But the retail consumers are yet to benefit from the decline in prices in the wholesale markets.
Retailers were found charging Tk 48 for each kg of atap and boiled miniket rice, a hike by Tk 6 compared to last week.
The wholesale prices of different types of rice fell by only Tk 50 per sack of 50 kg, said Najmul Hoque, a retailer at Karnaphuli CDA Market.
But the retail prices are still high, as the retailers are selling rice from their stock, which they purchased at increased prices earlier, he said.
Wholesale prices of different types of rice that rose sharply by Tk 300 to Tk 500 per 50kg sack last week saw a nominal drop in the last two days, he added.
Indian onion was sold for Tk 50 to Tk 55 a kg yesterday in the kitchen markets, down from Tk 60 last week.
"We came to know that there is enough supply of Indian onion. But the retailers are still not reducing the prices much," said Shahena Akhter, a housewife.
Though there was a razor-thin presence of people across the city yesterday, many were seen buying essentials in different kitchen markets like Karnaphuli CDA Market and Reazuddin Bazar.
"Those who are still coming to the markets are trying to buy goods in bulk," said Mohammad Suman, a staffer of a grocery shop at Karnaphuli CDA Market.