- Cumin, cloves, pepper and cinnamon have become costlier by Tk20-100 per kilogram
- Importers insist the spice market will return to normal soon
- Prices of onions, ginger and garlic are also on the rise
- Dried food prices are also on upward trajectory
Spice prices have started rising with Eid-ul-Azha one and a half months away, and – in a span of just two weeks – cumin, cloves, pepper and cinnamon have become costlier by Tk20-100 per kilogram.
Rising commodity prices in the international market, depreciation of the taka against the dollar and fears of a shortage of goods during the Eid have mainly driven up the prices.
But importers insist the spice market will return to normal soon. If prices are increased by creating an artificial crisis, businesses will have to count losses.
At Khatunganj, one of the country's largest wholesale markets for consumer goods, the price of Indian cumin was Tk320-330 per kg two weeks ago. At present, it is being sold at Tk385.
The wholesale price of cloves is Tk10,40 per kg, which was Tk1,010 two weeks ago. Pepper is selling for Tk550 per kg, an increase of Tk20 in two weeks.
There are two types of cinnamon available in the market. The comparatively better quality of the commodity is currently selling for Tk390 per kg, up from Tk360 two weeks ago. The current wholesale price of the other type is Tk305 per kg, which was being sold at Tk295 two weeks ago.
Nutmeg is selling at Tk590 per kg with an increase of Tk50 in a span of two weeks. Besides, mace has two types in terms of quality – each kg is selling for Tk2,100 and Tk2,400, up from Tk2,080 and Tk2,300, respectively.
Meanwhile, the price of cardamom has begun to decrease. Now it is selling for Tk1,390 per kg, down from Tk1,430 two weeks ago.
Amal Saha, proprietor of Nazim and Brothers at Khatunganj in Chattogram, told The Business Standard, "We have to buy spices at higher prices from importers. And so we are selling them at higher prices."
"Prices of spices have gone up due to the rise in the value of the dollar. They have gone up a little due to fears of a shortage of goods during the upcoming Eid. But now the prices have started falling," he added.
These spices are widely used in restaurants as well as on various occasions, such as weddings, parties and birthdays. Besides, these spices are used in every home during Eid-ul-Azha.
Amar Kanti Das, owner of AB Traders in Khatunganj, a spice importer, and senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Wholesale Spice Traders Association, told TBS, "The price will not increase anymore. Now it will remain normal. There is no chance of prices being increased during Eid."
"People have the same purchasing power as before. So they will not buy spices without buying rice and pulses. If prices go up, people will buy less and the goods will remain unsold. Market prices will continue to fall from now on," he added.
Prices of onions, ginger and garlic still on the rise
To protect farmers, the Department of Agricultural Extension has not allowed the import of onions since 6 May. In addition, onions are not coming from India as the import approval period has expired. As a result, prices in the onion market have been on the rise for the past three weeks.
Boloy Kumar Poddar, owner of Grameen Banijyalaya in Khatunganj, told TBS, "Onion prices are still rising as imports from India have stopped. We are running out of stocks. Onion prices will not go down if import is not allowed. Besides, the price of ginger and garlic has gone up due to the rise in the value of the dollar."
Dried food prices also on upward trajectory
Within a week, the price of dried food has increased from Tk60-Tk200 depending on its types. The National Board of Revenue has imposed a regulatory duty of up to 20% on 135 products to control volatility in the foreign exchange market and discourage imports. These products include dried food.
Abdur Razzak, proprietor of Southern Trading at Khatunganj, told TBS, "Some dried food prices have risen due to the imposition of regulatory duty. These products mainly go to Dubai from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. We purchase from suppliers in Dubai. Some products also come from Europe via Singapore."
"The unrest in Sri Lanka has caused some delays in the arrival of goods. Goods imported from Dubai come to Colombo port. Instead of one week on this route, it now takes 25-30 days for the goods to arrive. And there is too an increase in the value of the dollar. These are the reasons why the price of dried food has gone up," he added.