KARACHI/LAHORE: After paying high prices for sugar and wheat flour for months, consumers now have to bear the added burden of increasing rates of poultry and eggs.
In Karachi, price of chicken was recorded at Rs260-270 per kg for live bird and Rs420-430 per kg for meat without giblets — an increase of over Rs100 per kg in the last one month.
Meanwhile in Lahore, chicken meat is being sold at Rs320 per kg - an increase of Rs50 from last week when it was available for Rs270 per kg.
A retailer in Karachi said many chicken farmers in Sindh had not bought chicks during monsoon, leading to the ongoing supply crunch. “Chicken supplies are currently being managed from Punjab where rates of poultry and eggs are also high,” he said.
“Consumers are seen venting their anger at shops over the massive price jumps. So many people inquire about chicken prices and then walk away,” the retailer said.
High prices have mainly affected household buyers, forcing retailers to curtail stocks as they fear low sales, he explained.
“I am putting five to six crates of birds (10-12 birds in each crate) now as compared to 10 crates when prices were low,” he said, adding that caterers and online food outlets are bulk buying poultry. The government should check bird stocks at big poultry farms and dealers who have put on hold supplies to make windfall profits, he said.
Explaining the poultry price hike, Chaudhry Shoaib Ahmed, a meat seller in Lahore, said rates jumped by Rs50 per kg in the last few days as demand increased due to marriage functions. However, supply dipped as many farmers, who suffered losses in the last three months, did not replenish their sheds and impacted the supply.
“Today, the market at Badami Bagh Bus Stand, which used to receive 40 to 50 truckloads a day, had only ten of them. High chick prices and expensive feed has pushed many farmers into hibernation,” Ahmed said.
He went on to add: “Additionally, there is Covid-related uncertainty. No one knows for how many days’ marriages halls would operate and if farmers can get good price. If Covid-19 causes closure again, they would be in for trouble. So, no one is risking at this stage.”
Egg prices have gone beyond the reach of many people as retailers are demanding Rs14-15 per egg as compared to Rs10-11 a month back. Currently prices of one dozen eggs range between Rs170-195 in retail shops.
Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA) Member Executive Committee Abdul Maroof Siddiqui said in Islamabad, live broiler is sold for Rs260 per kg in the markets, followed by Rs400 per kg for its meat — up Rs100 per kg in the last one month. He also said that there was a supply crunch amid high demand.
Sugar: Talking to Dawn, Rao Akram Khan of Karyana (retail) Merchant Association in Lahore said the sugar market may cool down a bit once imported sugar (at the rate of Rs83.50 per kg) takes hold.
A few mills in Sindh have started sugarcane crushing in the current month and wholesale rates of sugar fell down to Rs93 per kg from Rs98-99 per kg, Patron Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association (KWGA), Anis Majeed claimed
However, retailers have not passed on the impact towards consumers, with retail prices hovering between Rs100-110 per kg depending on the areas.
Majeed said sugar prices would climb down further when more sugar mills would start cane crushing.
Chairman Cereal Importers Association Muzammil Chappal said import of 150,000 tonnes of sugar by the private sector has been completed. Imports got under way from the last week of September to control skyrocketing prices of the sweetener. He said imported sugar price has also fallen to Rs82 from Rs87.50 per kg.
Wheat: The fifth vessel of Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) carrying 57,750 tonnes of imported wheat arrived at Port Qasim on Tuesday. The stock would be handed over to Punjab Food Department. With the arrival of this vessel, the total of so far arrived quantity of wheat through TCP would become 276,125 tonnes.
Muzzamil said private sector has so far imported 1.2 million tonnes of wheat from last week of August till to date.
Despite thriving imports of wheat and a cut of seven rupees per kilogram in the prices of flour no.2.5, fine and super fine atta by the millers in Sindh on October 23, flour prices in many areas have been pegged Rs70-75 per kg, with 10kg bags available for Rs740.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2020