08 May 2021 11:24:47 | Update: 08 May 2021 11:43:39
A woman is seen purchasing spices at a shop in Dhaka on Friday (May 8, 2021). Photo: The Business Post/Shamsul Haque Ripon.
Abdullah Al Masum
Kitchen markets are going through a rough patch since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as prices of daily necessities keep fluctuating greatly. However, spice market remains largely stable as consumption falls.
Consumers may have reduced their spice intake because spices are not as important as onions and ginger, according to business insiders.
Ahamad Salekin has been in the spice business for over the last 10 years at Moulovi Bazar in the capital. He said, “Coronavirus took a heavy toll on everything. People are struggling to put food on their plates, let alone using various spices for cooking. Consumers are forced to cut spices, except onion, garlic and ginger, off cooked food.”
“My average sales dropped about 60 per cent from my pre-pandemic sales of Tk 50,000 as sales now hover around Tk 20,000,” said Ahamed Salekin.
Despite reducing the price, the demand for different spices did not increase among customers, he added.
While visiting a number of kitchen markets in the capital, it was found that spice prices varied from market to market even though overall prices remained stable.
There is however no increase in consumption, which is frustrating the traders.
According to wholesale traders, people do not spend much on spices as before. They believe it might be because of a decline in purchasing capacity of consumers as they are already ravaged by a prolonged nationwide lockdown.
The situation of another wholesaler Mohammed Tanim Uddin at Begum Bazar looked grimmer as he was yet to sell a single product till 12.30pm on Wednesday.
He told The Business Post that his sales used to surpass Tk 30,000 by the same time before the pandemic hit.
Tanim Uddin sells clove at Tk 780 to 800 per kg, cinnamon at Tk 280 to 350 per kg, coriander at Tk 90-100 per kg, cumin at Tk 310 to Tk 330 per kg, black pepper at Tk 550 per kg, nutmeg at Tk 650 to 1,100 per kg, medium quality cardamom at Tk 2,100 per kg and mace at Tk 2,700 per kg.
However, Shohag Gazi, a retailer of Begum Bazar kitchen market, shared quite the opposite story. He claimed that his business was doing well with slight contraction given the pandemic situation.
He currently sells medium quality cardamom at Tk 2,180 per kg, cinnamon at Tk 380 per kg, clove at Tk 800 to 830 per kg, cumin at Tk 330 per Kg, coriander at Tk 110-120 per kg, mace at Tk 2,800 per kg, nutmeg at Tk 800 to 1,200 per kg and bay leaf at Tk 180 to 200 per kg.
Mehedi Hasan, a consumer, bought 20gm of cardamom at Tk 40 and 100gm of nutmeg at Tk 80. He said that he was buying spices in a small amount as prices in the retail market fluctuate frequently.