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KARACHI: Despite the fact that Sindh has produced a bumper wheat crop this season and the huge stocks available at the moment is sufficient to cater to the needs of the people, flour mill owners have raised the prices of various flour verities for a second time in less than two months.

A few days ago, the millers raised the price of flour No 2.5 to Rs1,900 per 50 kilograms from Rs1,875 that was prevailing in October. The same flour variety and quantity was priced at Rs 1,775 at the end of September and with the latest increase the flour became Rs2.50 per kg costlier from October.

Similarly, the price of fine and super fine flour (maida) has been raised to Rs1,975 from Rs1,950 per 50 kilos in October; although the same varieties were available at Rs1,875 per 50 kilos until September end. An increase of Rs2 per kilo since October has been witnessed.

Retailers said that millers were jacking up the prices due to higher consumption of flour and other food items during the winter season as people’s food intake had increased.

They added that millers were also passing on the impact of rising transportation cost because of an over Rs7 increase in per litre diesel price between Sept 1 and Nov 1. They said that last week the per kg CNG price was also increased by Rs2 and the cumulative jump in the CNG price was over Rs12 per kg since December 2016.

All Pakistan Flour Mills Association chairman Chaudhry Ansar Jawed said that the soaring flour price had nothing to do with any extra demand during winter, but with the higher transportation cost that was passed on to people.

He attributed the flour price hike to surging wheat prices in the open market — Rs3,400 per 100 kg from Rs3,300 earlier in October and Rs3,125 till the end of September.

Justifying the price hike, he said consumers usually took a hit of Rs3-4 per kg from the arrival of new wheat crop in the open market till the end of stocks.

By mid-December, the Sindh government after procuring growers’ stock would start offloading wheat to the millers. By that time the wheat stocks would continue to exhaust, he said.

He added that Sindh possessed around 1.7 million tonnes of wheat (from 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 crops). The wheat procurement drive by flour mills would end by March 2018, he said.

He said that the government’s support price of Rs1,300 per 40 kg for wheat could also be blamed for the high flour price. But, he maintained that a high price had encouraged growers to produce a bumper crop; otherwise a low price would force them to shift to other crops.

Following the new wholesale price, some retailers have started passing on the impact to consumers.

Some retailers have been selling Ashrafi and Bake Parlour 10-kg flour bag at Rs460 against the Rs430-450 price in October and Rs410-420 in the last week of September.

Others retailers would also follow suit since they have been getting flour from millers at new rates.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2017