Prices of food items such as fried vermicelli (Lachcha Semai), noodles, pasta, pilau rice – which are used as traditional delicacies during Eid celebrations – have gone up abruptly, adding to the woes of already burdened consumers.
Traders have blamed the price hike on the volatile global market of wheat and edible oil – both main ingredients of the food products.
Flour and edible oils witnessed a sharp rise in global prices due to the Ukraine-Russia war, Argentina's restrictions on soybean exports, and Indonesia's ban on palm oil exports.
Prices of all varieties of vermicelli have increased by about Tk50 per kg on average in Dhaka markets.
A 200-gram pack of fried vermicelli (Lachcha Semai) of different companies, such as Bonoful, Kolson and Kishwan, has seen price hike by Tk10 to Tk45 recently. Long-stick loose vermicelli is selling for Tk80 per kg, up from Tk60, according to various shopkeepers in the capital's Hatirpool and Moghbazar area.
Mohammad Anisur Rahman, a retailer in the Ambagan area of Moghbazar, told The Business Standard, "An eight-pack of noodles, weighing about 500 grams, was priced at Tk125 a few months ago, which is now selling for Tk140."
A 400-gram pack of Kolson Macaroni Pasta was Tk60 three months ago, but the price gradually increased to Tk75, he added.
Towhidul Islam, a seller at Karwan Bazar kitchen market, said the price of all kinds of raw materials for making vermicelli has gone up in the country after the Ukraine-Russia war began. "We have to buy at a higher price, so we sell at a higher price," he said.
The demand for Pilau rice rises every year during Eid. The price of loose and packaged pilau rice has gradually increased about Tk20-25 per kg in a month.
Good quality loose Pilau rice is selling for Tk110 per kg while packaged rice is selling for Tk130-140.
In the last two months, the price of full-cream powdered milk has gone up Tk40 per kg. A 500-gram packet of powdered milk is selling for Tk365, which was around Tk345 earlier.
On 9 September last year, the government set the price of loose sugar at Tk74 per kg and packaged sugar at Tk75 per kg.
But almost all the stores in the capital are selling sugar at higher than the prices set. Packaged white sugar and red sugar are Tk80 and Tk90 per kg respectively, while loose white sugar and red sugar is going for Tk80 and Tk90 per kg respectively.
Similar price hikes were observed in markets across the country, including Chattogram, Rajshahi, Bagura, Sylhet, and Brahmanbaria.
In the Khatunganj wholesale market, a 35-kg basket of good quality local vermicelli was Tk1,300-1,500 last year. This year, the price has increased to Tk1,500-1,600.
The price of fried vermicelli has increased by at least Tk30-40 per kg, said Khatunganj traders.
Amal Saha, owner of Nazim & Brothers in Khatunganj, told The Business Standard, "The main ingredients for making vermicelli are edible oil and flour. The price of both these ingredients has gone up, pushing the price of vermicelli up in the local market."
Aside from vermicelli, the price of noodles has also increased. A family pack of 12 small noodle packets used to be Tk190. Now the price has gone up to Tk210.
Syed Haq, owner of Al-Farooq & Sons in Chattogram's Riazuddin Bazar, told The Business Standard that vermicelli and noodles were cheaper before Ramadan.
In Rajshahi markets, the price of vermicelli saw a similar increase of Tk50-60 per kg. Last year, the item was Tk100-120 per kg, but now it is selling for Tk140-200.
Md Manik, owner of Ratul Bakery, said, "Last year the price of soybean oil was Tk80 per litre. Now, a litre of soybean is selling for Tk160-180. A sack of flour was TK1,800 last year, which now stands at Tk3,200."
Wholesale traders are selling 100 kilograms of fried vermicelli every day on average now, for Tk140 a kg. Last year, the price was Tk80 per kg only, he added.
A retailer of Saheb Bazar in Rajshahi said the price of fried vermicelli has doubled this year, compared to last year. It is selling for Tk180-200 per kg in Saheb Bazar.
Anwarul Azim, a Rajshahi BSCIC industrial zone official, said some 8 to 10 factories in the BSCIC area are producing huge sums of fried vermicelli this Eid season.
At least 150 factories are making fried vermicelli in Bogura and the price has nearly doubled in local markets compared to last year.
Manufacturers have blamed high raw material prices for the increase while sugar prices have also gone up in Bogura. In the city's Rajabazar and Fateh Ali markets, local sugar is selling for Tk80 per kg.
TBS district correspondents contributed to this report.