KARACHI: The demand of ghee and cooking oil has swelled by over 30 per cent. Traders attribute spurt in demand of edible oils to the eating pattern of Pakistanis during Ramazan.
In the holy month families set aside more for the kitchen budget as the consumption of special delicacies including deep fried items increases manifold.
Consumers made bulk purchases of ghee and cooking oil ahead of Ramazan. The local city government has fixed the rate of cooking oil no.1 and no.2 quality at Rs155 and Rs160 per kg.
Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) Chairman Shaikh Mohammad Ikram told Dawn that the country usually consumes 200,000 tons of ghee and cooking oil per month in normal days in which the share of ghee is 70 per cent, and in Ramazan its demand goes up by over 30 per cent.
He said that there would be no shortage of ghee and cooking oil during the holy month despite high demand and even the prices would remain stable. He added that many companies announced a discount of Rs10-15 per kg for Ramazan.
The manufacturers had always remained active in quickly passing on the impact to the consumers of rising palm oil prices in world market but they had not shared the recent decline in palm oil price with the end users. The government had yet to investigate this issue.
Giving the reason for not lowering the prices, he said that the palm oil rates in the international markets had dropped for a few days only.
Ghee/cooking oil producers and traders had made huge palm oil imports in May 2011 at 188,877 tons ($230 million) to meet increased demand in the holy month. The imports in June stood at 149,274 tons ($183 million).
Shaikh Ikram said that in July 2011 imports also hovered between 140,000-150,000 tons and August imports may also range as of July.
Pakistan’s total import bill for palm oil in July-June 2010-2011 stood at $2 billion (1,943,894 tons) as compared to $1.3 billion (1,702,196 tons) in July-June 2009-2010.
The PVMA chief said that due to high prices, the share of one kg pouch in total sales of edible oil and ghee was now 50 per cent as compared to 20-25 per cent two years back. It was just five per cent some five years back. He added that many people were purchasing edible oil products as per their needs.
He said the government was pocketing at least Rs27-28 per kg on edible oil imports. He added that the industry had been the second highest revenue provider of Rs30-35 billion per year to the national kitty.
It may be pointed out that the leading packers had actually played havoc with the prices. For example, Dalda ghee five-kg tin now costs Rs995 as compared to Rs755 a year back. The 2.5 kg ghee tin is now available at Rs495 as compared to Rs380 a year back.