Prices of imported edible oil have started falling in the domestic wholesale market after the price fell sharply in the international market in the last two months, but consumers are not getting the benefit as they still have to buy the product at prices fixed by the government at the retail level.
In the last 15 days, prices of palm oil and soybean oil dropped by Tk41 and Tk21 respectively per litre in Chattogram's Khatunganj, the largest wholesale market for consumer goods in the country.
However, at the retail level, the price of palm oil fell by only Tk14 per litre and soybean by Tk6 per litre so far. So, a consumer has to pay Tk27 per litre for palm oil and Tk15 per litre more for soybean at the retail level.
On 26 June, the government reduced the price of soybean by Tk6 and fixed it at Tk199 per litre. Earlier, on 9 June, the price of palm oil was reduced by Tk14 per litre and fixed at Tk158. Since then, edible oil is being sold at those prices at the retail level.
Consumers complain that when the price of edible oil rises in the international market, importers and traders raise the price in the domestic market, but when the price goes down in the global market and even in the domestic wholesale market, the retail price does not go down easily.
Edible oil packaging companies put pressure on government agencies to increase prices, but the agencies cannot put pressure on the companies to reduce the price for the sake of consumers.
However, Pradeep Karan, deputy general manager of Citigroup, an edible oil importer and edible oil packaging company, said the importers have reduced the price of edible oil according to the international market. Many importers even have to sell products at a rate lower than the buying price, just to survive in the competitive market.
He hoped that the price of edible oil will come down in both retail and wholesale markets soon.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh Co-president SM Nazer Hossain said when prices jump in the international market, the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission hastily hike prices too by traders' demand. However, the commission is reluctant in adjusting the price after it drops globally and locally.
"Will the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission only look at the profits of traders instead of considering the interest of consumers? I urge authorities concerned to adjust the price of edible oil in the context of the international markets," he added.
In Khatunganj, edible oil has been sold at a record price for almost two months – from the last week of April to the third week of June when one maund (40.9 litres) of palm oil was sold at Tk7,000 and soybean at Tk7,500.
The price of the product started declining gradually from the last week of June in the domestic wholesale market due to the impact of the international market.
On Monday, palm oil sold at Tk5,300-5,450 and soybean at Tk6,610-6,680 per litre in Khatunganj.
According to Investing.com, each tonne of palm oil sold at $ 1,108 in international markets on Monday. On 15 June, per tonne palm oil sold for $1,290, in May for $1,717, in April for $1,683 and in March for $1,777. According to the above price, the price of per tonne palm oil in the international market has decreased by $670 in the last two months.
On Monday, the price of soybean oil was $1,510 per tonne, which was $1,728 on 15 June. In May, April and March, soybean sold at $1,963, $1,948 and $1,957 respectively in the global market. So, soybean oil prices decreased by $453 per maund in one month.