The prices of edible oil on the global market, which recorded a historic high a couple of months ago, came down 11-27% over the last month, with the beginning of the seed harvesting seasons in major oil-producing countries.
Yet, the local market has not seen any decline in the prices of the essential cooking item.
On 15 June, a tonne of crude palm oil was booked at $1,290 on the international market, which had been $1,717 a month earlier – a 27% drop, according to IndexMundi, a data portal which gathers global facts and statistics from multiple sources. The price was $1,683 in April and $1,777 in March this year.
Besides, the price of soybean oil came down by 11% to $1,728 per tonne on Thursday from $1,963 in mid-May. It was $1,948 in April and $1,957 in March.
Even as global prices were on a decline, Bangladesh's commerce ministry hiked the price of soybean oil by Tk7 to Tk205 per litre (bottled) on 9 June. However, it cut the price of palm oil by Tk14 to Tk158 per litre.
On Thursday, palm oil was being sold at Tk6,700 per maund (40.7 litre) and soybean at Tk7,700 in Khatunganj, the country's largest wholesale hub for commodities in Chattogram.
Talking to The Business Standard, traders there said prices had remained almost unchanged for the last two months.
"With a global price hike, edible oil importers immediately raise local prices, but they do not reduce prices in cases of a fall in global prices," Khatunganj trader Abdur Razzak, proprietor of Ismail Traders, said.
He urged the authorities concerned to strongly monitor the market, including importers and refiners.
Several other wholesalers told TBS that the local prices of edible oil, one of the most essential commodities which had been on the rise in the local market amid the pandemic, rose further with the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war. Importers are manipulating prices by different means and bagging higher profits, they added.
When contacted, City Group Executive Director Bishwajit Saha told TBS that edible oil currently being sold in the local market was booked at least three months ago. There is no scope to cut prices of the oil now, he added.
"The prices of edible oil will go down when low-price booked oil reaches the country. It [Bangladesh] is a competitive market, there is no way to increase prices as per our wishes," said the top official of City Group – one of the major importers of edible oil.
Traders and consumers will benefit if edible oil prices are fixed every 15 days, believes Golam Mawla, president of the Bangladesh Wholesale Edible Oil Traders' Association.
"We have already placed the proposal in various meetings with the government. Hopefully, the government will take the right decision in future," he told TBS.