Beef sold at Tk 500 a kilogramme around the capital yesterday with butchers hiking prices by Tk 30 to Tk 70 following their six-day strike and a weekly meatless day on Sunday.
Meat sellers reasoned that traders in the city's only permanent cattle market at Gabtoli took advantage of low supply to raise bovine prices, creating a domino effect. Gabtoli traders blamed it on rising cattle rearing costs.
Meat traders also say that demand for beef dropped for the price rise. One manager of a restaurant says he refrained from serving beef thinking customers would not appreciate the sudden jump in price.
However, customers think the strike was an excuse to hike meat prices. The strike enforcers say they seek a stop to “excessive tax collection” by the Gabtoli market lessee and facilities for legal import of cattle from Bhutan, India and Nepal.
Bangladesh Meat Merchant Association Secretary General Robiul Alam, who has a butcher's shop at Rayer Bazar, said the strike was what caused cattle supply to go down at the Gabtoli market.
“We had sold beef at Tk 430-Tk 470 prior to our protest. But now we have no other option but to sell at Tk 500 to meet costs,” he said.
“If our demands are met, we can provide the customers with red meat at Tk 300 per kilogramme only,” Robiul Alam reinstated yesterday. Butchers at Karwan Bazar, Gabtoli and Mirpur echoed him.
However, one Shamim Ahmed of Shamim Mangshaw Bitan at Mirpur-11 told The Daily Star that he charged Tk 480 yesterday.
Requesting anonymity, a buffalo meat trader in Kawran Bazar alleged that anyone charging below Tk 500 must be dishonestly mixing buffalo meat with beef. Buffalo meat sells at Tk 430 to Tk 450 a kilogramme.
“Almost half of the capital's total red meat supply includes buffalo meat,” alleged another trader at the Gabtoli market.
Demand for buffalo meat was low with one Jakir Hossain, whose shop at Kawran Bazar supplies buffalo meat to a number of hotels, restaurants and shops, saying he slaughtered only four buffaloes in the last two days instead of the usual seven to eight every day.