The wholesale market of edible oil remains volatile as importers and distributors have kept selling the essential commodity at increased prices, defying government instructions.
The government on Wednesday fixed the prices of cooking oil to stabilise the domestic market, but the prices of per maund (40.90 litres) of edible oil have surged by at least Tk150-200 in the wholesale market in Khatunganj – the largest wholesale market for consumer goods in the country – over the last four days.
Edible oil traders in the market said the wholesale price of soybean oil has risen by up to Tk200 per maund in the past one week.
At the beginning of last week, the wholesale price of soybean oil was less than Tk4,300. However, the commodity was being sold for Tk4,500 at mill gate on Saturday – the first day of this week.
As such, soybean oil is currently being sold at Tk110 per litre at mill gate, even though the government has fixed the mill gate price of loose soybean oil at Tk107 per litre.
As per the government fixed rates, the maximum mill gate price of a mound of loose soybean oil is supposed to be Tk4,365, but per maund of the cooking oil is currently being sold at a price Tk135 higher than the price fixed by the government.
Meanwhile, the government has fixed the mill gate price of palm super oil at Tk95 per litre. In this count, the price of one maund of palm super oil should be Tk3,886. However, the commodity is currently being sold at Tk3,990 per maund – Tk104 more than the government-set price.
Traders said the price of palm super has gone up by around Tk150 over the last one week.
Meanwhile, the price of loose palm oil has gone up by Tk100 per maund over the last one week. At present, palm oil is being sold to wholesalers at Tk3,800 per maund, which was Tk3,700 at the beginning of last week.
Even though the wholesale prices of edible oil have increased in the last several days, retail prices of packaged and bottled cooking oil are still within the fixed rates, according to market insiders.
At present, one litre of bottled soybean oil of Rupchanda brand is being sold at Tk130 at the wholesale level, two litres at Tk240, three litres at Tk370 and five litres at Tk625. Similarly, 5 liters of bottled soybean oil of Basundhara brand is being sold at Tk625, market insiders said.
Abdur Razzak, proprietor of Messrs. Ismail Trading at Khatunganj, said the prices of edible oil in the domestic market have been volatile for the last two-three months. "Apart from the increase in prices of cooking oil in the international market, importers in connivance with wholesalers have played a role in creating instability in the domestic market.
"The government has set the price of both loose and bottled edible oil at the mill gate, wholesale and retail levels to tame volatility in the market. However, the government fixed rates are not being followed at the mill gate and distributor levels. Packaged and bottled oils are being sold as per the fixed rates."
Asked about selling edible oil at increased prices, Mohammad Alamgir, owner of Messrs RM Store – one of the leading edible oil traders in Khatunganj, said the edible oil market became volatile before the government fixed the prices and therefore it is taking some time to come down.
Mentioning that oil marketing companies have already fixed the prices of their packaged and bottled products adjusting with the prices fixed by the government, he expressed hope the wholesale prices will also come down to the government-fixed rates in a few days.
On Wednesday, the government fixed the prices of edible oil at a meeting of the National Committee on Essential Commodities Marketing and Distributors organised by the Ministry of Commerce.
Considering the overall situation, the committee decided that per litre of loose soybean oil would be Tk107 at the mill gate, Tk110 at the distributor level and Tk115 at the retail level. The price of bottled soybean oil was fixed at Tk123 per litre at the mill gate, Tk127 at distributor and Tk135 at the retail level. Meanwhile, the price of a five-litre bottle of soybean was fixed at Tk590 at the mill gate, Tk610 at the distributor and Tk630 at the distributor level. Per litre of loose palm super oil was fixed at Tk95 at the mill gate, Tk98 at the distributor and Tk104 at the retail level.