Millers jack up flour prices yet again

Updated August 23, 2019

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Workers are filling bags with wheat flour at a mill in this file photo. Since April this year, the prices of different varieties of flour have increased by up to Rs9.5 per kg.
Workers are filling bags with wheat flour at a mill in this file photo. Since April this year, the prices of different varieties of flour have increased by up to Rs9.5 per kg.

KARACHI: Amid higher wheat stocks, flour millers in Sindh hiked prices again on Thursday by up to Rs2 per kg.

They made the first price increase on Aug 15 (third day of Eid ul Azha) by Rs1.5 per kg in flour no 2.5 and Rs2 per kg in maida (super fine flour) and fine flour, respectively.

Retailers on Thursday quoted 5kg and 10kg Ashrafi fine flour and Bake Parlour bags prices at Rs250-260 and Rs500, up from Rs240 and Rs480 per bag.

After the two price jumps on Aug 15 and Aug 22, Sindh millers have issued new rate of flour no 2.5 at Rs42.50 per kg while the rate for super fine flour and fine flour has been fixed at Rs46 per kg.

Flour mills have raised prices by at around 7-8 times since April, citing soaring wheat rates in the open market.

From April to date, the price of flour no 2.5 climbed up by Rs9 per kg followed by Rs9.5 per kg rise in super fine and fine flour varieties.

In April, the 10 kg bag produced by flour mills was priced at Rs340 which rose to Rs390 ahead of Eid and now costs Rs430.

Like past practice, the previous and fresh price hikes in flour varieties went unnoticed both at federal, provincial and local government levels, further burdening consumers already impacted by food inflation of other items.

Pakistan Flour Mills Association (Pema) Sindh Chapter’s Chairman Mohammad Jawed Yousuf attributed the hike to increase in 100kg wheat flour bag to Rs3,900 in open market, from Rs3,625 ahead of Eid ul Azha and Rs3,000 in April.

He said on official papers, Sindh government has over 840,000 tonnes of wheat but n reality its stocks stand around 500,000 tonnes.

The government has also not procured wheat from growers this year.

On the request of flour mills, Sindh government on May 21 had imposed ban on inter-provincial wheat movement to control grain shortage and flour prices but millers said the Sindh grain is still finding way into Punjab through illegal channels. Punjab had faced wheat shortage following damage to crop because of rains a few months back.

To control wheat flour prices and especially curbing Roti rates, the federal government first banned wheat exports and its products in third week of July 2019 but it could not produce any result.

The federal government in July had also raised gas tariff for tandoors to Rs1,283 per mmBtu for over 300 cubic metres consumption, up from Rs980 per mmBtu. However, it later on reverted the rate to pre-October 2018 level of Rs700.

Likewise, tariffs for smaller tandoors were approved for reduction to Rs110 per mmBtu for 50 cubic metres, Rs220 for 100 cubic metres and Rs300 for 200 cubic metres instead of the existing Rs121, Rs300 and Rs553 per mmBtu, respectively.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2019