Potato and onion prices remain high in the local kitchen markets, despite having ample seasonal supply, and imports that have been coming in for some time.
Data from the state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) shows that both the potatoes and onions are being sold at 112 per cent – 183 per cent higher prices compared to the same period last year.
Usually, in the beginning of December, when new potatoes and onions start coming into the market, the prices begin to decrease. But the reality has been different this year.
In addition, some brand companies have increased the price of edible oil in the domestic market even though the price has decreased for several months in the international market. In the last one week, edible oil price has gone up by Tk 4 per litre.
The prices of potatoes and onions suddenly began rising from September this year. The government then launched an initiative to import the kitchen essentials in a bid to cool the market down.
During that time, the government allowed onion imports on June 5 and potato imports on October 30.
According to the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM), Bangladesh imported 38,000 tonnes of potatoes until last Tuesday, while 6.5 lakh tonnes of onions were also imported in the same timeframe.
However, since locally produced potatoes and onions started coming into the domestic market, traders are no longer showing interest in importing these essentials.
Speaking to The Business Post, a number of traders said although new onions and potatoes have started coming into the market, the supply is still not enough. So, there are no major impacts on the price.
Apart from this, most of the potatoes and onions sold in the market are imported. Import costs are also higher due to the higher value of the USD, they added.
Local onions are being sold for Tk 120 to Tk 130 per kg on Thursday in the capital's Malibagh, Moghbazar and Karwan Bazar kitchen markets. Meanwhile, imported onions are being sold for Tk 100 – Tk 120 per kg.
In retail, a kg of old potatoes are being sold for Tk 45 – Tk 55 per kg, while new seasonal potatoes are being sold for Tk 60 – Tk 80 per kg. Apart from this, new onion shoots are being sold for Tk 70 – Tk 80 per kg.
Abdul Majed, a businessman and importer located in the capital’s Shyambazar area, said, “Due to the increased price of the USD, the cost of imports is falling. New onions have started arriving, but their supply is still less than the demand.
“So the price is not going down. Hopefully, the supply of onions will increase within the next 15 days, and the price will then come down.”
According to the TCB, the price of local onions in the Dhaka market is Tk 110 – Tk 135 per kg, and imported onions are being sold for Tk 80 – Tk 120 per kg on Thursday.
During the same period last year, local onions were sold for Tk 35 – Tk 50 per kg in the city markets, while the price of imported onions were Tk 40 – Tk 50 per kg. So, the price of onions has increased by 183 per cent over the span of a year.
The price of imported onions rose by 133 per cent in the same timeframe.
Apart from this, according to the TCB, the price of potatoes is now Tk 45 – Tk 55 per kg in the local market. At this time last year, the price was Tk 22 – Tk 25 per kg. As such, the price of potatoes in the market has more than doubled within a year.
The government had fixed the prices of potatoes on September 14. The retail price of potatoes is set at Tk 35 – Tk 36 per kg, and local onion Tk 64 – Tk 65 per kg. Even if the prices were set by the government, it has not been implemented in the market.
Besides, some brand companies – including Meghna and Bashundhara – have increased the price of edible oil. Soybean oil is now selling for Tk 173 for a one litre bottle, Tk 346 for a two-litre bottle, Tk 520 for a 3-litre bottle and Tk 845 for a 5-litre bottle.
The government reduced the price of soybean oil by Tk 5 per litre on September 17. The government had fixed the retail price of a litre of bottled soybean oil at Tk 169, which was Tk 174 earlier. The price of a 5-litre bottle of soybean oil was set at Tk 825, from Tk 850 earlier.