The price of dates has started to shoot up, a month before the start of Ramadan, despite the import of this fruit already exceeding the demand.
According to date importers and wholesalers, about 50,000 tonnes of dates have been imported for Ramadan while the demand during this month is a little over 35,000 tonnes. The price of dates has already gone up at the retail market despite the surplus stock.
Market analysis of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) reveals that dates are being sold for Tk150-500 per kilogramme at the retail market, which is 44% more than the same period a year ago.
Traders said the demand for dates increases during the holy month of Ramadan. The traders have already finished importing dates like every year. However, before the start of Ramadan, prices have started to rise at the retail level.
Sirajul Islam, general secretary of the Bangladesh Fruit Importers' Association, told The Business Standard that many seasonal traders sell dates before Ramadan. Due to these traders, the price of dates increases at the market every year.
"There is enough stock to meet the demand. That is why there is no reason to increase the price," he added.
However, importers and wholesalers said that the price of medium quality dates has gone up by Tk50 per carton (10 kilogrammes). These include boroi and dhabas dates imported from Tunisia-Algeria and nagal dates imported from the United Arab Emirates.
They said more than 80% of customers buy jahedi, boroi and dhabas dates for Iftar.
At Badamtali of Dhaka, the largest fruit market in the country, the wholesale price of dates is Tk1,400 per carton (10 kilogrammes), which was Tk1,300-1,350 a week ago. The price of nagal dates has also increased by Tk50 to Tk1,400 per carton (10 kilogrammes).
However, the price is relatively low for sayer dates which are being sold for Tk1,000 for a 10 kilogramme carton. These dates are being sold for Tk300-500 per kilogramme at the retail market.
The price of good quality ajwa and maryam dates are being sold at higher prices on the retail market although traders claim that the supply of these dates is sufficient on the market.
Maryam dates are being sold for Tk700 per kilogramme at the wholesale market and for Tk850-1,000 at the retail market. Meanwhile, ajwa dates are being sold for Tk1,100-2,000 per kilogramme at the retail market.
Anisur Rahman, a seller at Messrs Sumon Enterprise in Badamtali, claimed that dates were not sold that much last Ramadan due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shafiqul Islam, a date seller in Badda, said that he bought dates worth Tk1.5 lakh to sell during Ramadan.
Meanwhile, the Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection has started monitoring to prevent low quality dates from spreading at the market.
An official of the directorate, who did not want to be named, told The Business Standard, "We will start our operation soon because a lot of dates were unsold last year. We will ensure that low quality and expired dates do not enter the market."