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BMTA voices concern over low beef prices

Rokon Uddin
03 Dec 2023 22:05:42 | Update: 03 Dec 2023 22:05:42
BMTA voices concern over low beef prices
Beef prices have remained between Tk 750 and Tk 800 for over a year— Shamsul Haque Ripon

Members of the Bangladesh Meat Traders Association (BMTA) expressed concern over the recent decline in beef prices, fearing that lower prices could undermine their businesses.

They raised their objections during a seminar organised by the Directorate of National Consumers' Rights Protection (DNCRP) in Dhaka on Sunday.

In response to the BMTA's concerns, DNCRP has directed the organisation to collaborate with the Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association (BDFA) to reassess beef prices by Thursday.

According to market data, beef prices have remained between Tk 750 and Tk 800 for over a year, dampening consumer demand. However, recent price drops in several areas have caused unease among meat traders. Beef has been sold at Tk 595 in some areas recently.

To address these concerns, DNCRP convened a discussion on Sunday with retail and wholesale meat traders, BDFA, and representatives of relevant departments and organisations. The seminar's primary objective was to establish a new, more equitable beef price.

DNCRP Director General (DG) AHM Shafiquzzaman issued three directives during the seminar, including the re-evaluation of beef prices. He instructed BMTA and BDFA to meet next Wednesday to determine the extent of the price reduction and present their findings to the consumer department by Thursday.

DNCRP will assess the report and take appropriate action. DNCRP will escalate the matter to the relevant government authority if needed.

Furthermore, the DG tasked the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTC) with investigating cow production costs and determining an appropriate beef price.

“The BTC is currently conducting a study on poultry feed. A study is also needed to determine the fair price of beef or the cost of production. I will request BTC to undertake this task,” he stated. “We lack specific data. If Pakistan can sell beef at 400 rupees per kg, we cannot justify prices of Tk 700 to 800 per kg here. Research is crucial.”

Additionally, Safikuzzaman instructed sellers to maintain receipts for both purchasing and selling meat and to prominently display price lists.

Stating that the market will operate at its own pace, he said, “If someone purchases beef at Tk 700 per kg wholesale and sells it at Tk 750 per kg, they must provide receipts.”

“Price manipulation is a common issue, so sellers must maintain transaction records. Failure to provide receipts will be considered an irregularity, and our mobile court drives will continue to monitor the situation," Safikuzzaman reiterated.

The seminar was marked by multiple disruptions as businessmen engaged in heated arguments. Consequently, the three-hour-long discussion concluded without a definitive resolution, leaving only directives for further action.

Attendees included BDFA President Imran Hossain, BMTA President Gholam Murtaza, BMTA General Secretary Rabiul Alam, CAB Treasurer Manjur-e-Khoda, and representatives from various government departments.

Brief glimpse of previously set prices

In 2018, the BMTA and Dhaka North and South City Corporations jointly set the price of beef at Tk 320 per kg. However, the government ceased fixing prices in 2019, disregarding the association's recommendations for various reforms.

According to the Department of Agricultural Marketing, the average price of beef in the country was Tk 275 per kg in 2014. In 2018, the average price of beef surged to Tk 430 per kg.

Even in March 2020, beef was available in Dhaka at a rate of Tk 550 per kg. When the city corporations refrained from fixing beef prices during Ramadan in 2019, market prices soared to Tk 600-650 per kg.