The sale of pasteurised milk has declined substantially after reports on the presence of lead and antibiotics in the liquid food caused a widespread uproar.
Abdus Salam, owner of Salam Store in Tejgaon’s Monipuripara, said his sale had gone down by 50 percent.
“I used to sell around 30 litres of packaged milk of different companies. But now sales have plunged.”
Md Rafiq, a dealer of Milk Vita in the Tejgaon area also saw his sales decrease substantially.
“In recent years I normally sell about 500 litres of milk every day. But now it is hard to sell even 200 litres.”
Anwar Hossain owns a grocery store in Old Dhaka and he has also had a similar experience.
“For a long time, I have been selling around 50 litres of packaged milk every day. But lately the sale has fallen sharply. Nowadays, I hardly sell 15 litres,” he said.
“My customers are avoiding packaged milk. I do not understand why.”
Md Shipu, a dealer of Milk Vita in Mirpur’s Shewrapara, said his sale had also dropped sharply in recent days, but refused to give approximate figures.
On Sunday, the High Court banned milk production, packaging and sale of 14 companies for five weeks.
The next day, the court stayed the order for Milk Vita after hearing a petition submitted by the company. However, the ban was in force for 13 other companies.
Then on Tuesday, the Supreme Court stayed the ban for Akij Food and Beverage Limited (Farm Fresh Milk) and Pran Dairy Limited.
Later on Wednesday the SC stayed the ban on 11 more pasteurised milk brands, clearing the bar to the production and sale of pasteurised milk by all 14 companies.
Requesting anonymity, a Pran Dairy Limited official said: “After the Supreme Court order, we collected milk on Wednesday and will start selling on Thursday. Then we will understand how the court order has affected our sale.”
Milk Vita officials also expressed concern over what they described as propaganda about pasteurised milk.
“The sale of pasteurised milk has decreased markedly due to the spread of negative propaganda,” the company’s General Manager Abu Mohammad Shariful Islam told The Business Standard.
He said they were trying to handle the situation.
Milk Vita officials said they used to sell 1,80,000 litres of milk every day but that had declined by more than 50,000 litres per day after the lab test reports were unveiled.
On Tuesday, the company sold 1,10,000 litres and the next day, sale figures rose to 1,25,000 litres. However, it was still far less than the regular 1,80,000 litre-mark.
Abul Hossain, a drugstore owner in Gandaria, said the High Court ban had left consumers puzzled and confused.
“People are now very health-conscious. Whenever they came to know that the presence of unsafe substances in milk had been detected, they started avoiding packaged milk.”
Traders said some of the consumers had started buying frozen milk from local sellers.
“I collect milk from dairy farmers of Keraniganj and Munshiganj, and then sell it in frozen form to customers. My sale has gone up in the recent days. It was 25 litres per day, but now it is 50 litres,” Abu Sayeed, a trader in Gandaria, said.
The demand for imported milk powder has also increased in the country.
According to data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, milk powder and cream imports rose by 23 percent in the first five months of the year, resulting in an increase of 75,881 tonnes.
Supermarket sources said the demand for powdered milk increased by 24 percent after lab test reports were published.