ONE of the significant developments in the wholesale commodity market last week was slight reduction in prices of edible oil products followed by minor decline in rates of wheat and gram pulse.
Traders said that due lacklustre trading, the wholesale market had failed in luring retailers to lift items in bulk quantities even at the falling prices.
They said supplies from areas of production and imports continued to show improvement but the market lacked buyers’ interest.
Former Chairman, Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association, Abdul Majeed Haji Mohammad said that palm olien rate had fallen to $975 per ton (C&F Karachi) from $1,010 on June 8 while rate of RBD palm oil fell to $970 from $980 per ton.
He said reports of elections in Greece and Euro crisis continued to hover around prices of commodities including edible, while falling crude oil prices also made its impact on prices of commodities.
Prices of palm olien in the local market plunged to Rs4,750 per maund from Rs5,000 while that of RBD palm oil fell to Rs4,600 from Rs4,950 per maund. Mr Majeed said palm oil prices may witness some change after the Greece elections.
Local sales of edible oil and ghee remained slow owing to thin consumer demand. He said sale of ghee and cooking oil would pick up with the advent of Ramazan from the third week of July.
In commodities, traders said, rate of pulses remained unchanged except for slight decline in rates of gram pulse, while rate of sugar remained stable due to improved supplies from mills. Rice prices also held unchanged.
The next week for the wholesale market of essential commodities was crucial as consumers expected fall in prices of grocery items following reduction in fuel prices and the consequent cut in transportation charges.
However, there was difference of opinion among traders and they offered mixed views over the passing of any impact of cut in fuel prices.
Huge supplies of commodities arrive on diesel-powered trucks from upcountry while a number of transporters operate on CNG for transportation of commodities to various city markets. The rate of diesel has been reduced by Rs6.08 per litre and CNG by Rs4.82 per kg.
Wholesalers believed that Rs5 per litre cut in diesel price made an impact of Re1 per kg of commodities in wholesale market on account of low transportation charges. However, this time the relief was more than Rs6 per litre on diesel.
General Secretary, Karachi Retail Grocers Group, Farid Qureish, however, was not optimistic in seeing any relief to consumers.
“Persistent devaluation of the rupee against the dollar is constantly increasing the cost of imported goods,” he said ruling out any noticeable decline in prices in terms of diesel price drop. However, he said much would depend on price cut in the wholesale market.
Chairman, Karachi Wholesale Grocers Association, Anis Majeed anticipated at least Rs1.50 per kg cut in prices of essential items like rice, wheat, pulses, sugar etc.
“The price drop looks possible next week as the markets are already facing thin presence of buyers due to lack of demand,” he said.
“Frankly speaking the wholesale market has not yet witnessed any negative impact of currency devaluation,” he said adding that one dollar is now equal to Rs94.40 in inter bank market as compared to Rs91 last month. Earlier this year it was Rs89.
Many people in the market feel that retailers usually do not slash prices despite fall in wholesale prices which is evident from the existing sharp difference between wholesale and retail prices. They said the government should take retailers to task for overcharging.—Aamir Shafaat Khan