Retailers sell vegetables, fruits at twice the wholesale price in Karachi

Published December 21, 2021
Wholesalers examine their merchandise that came from up-country at Subzi Mandi on Superhighway.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Wholesalers examine their merchandise that came from up-country at Subzi Mandi on Superhighway.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Retailers in Karachi have been charging almost double the wholesale price of vegetables while there is no limit of making profit on fruits.

This practice has been in vogue since the shifting of Sabzi Mandi to Superhighway from University Road in 2001.

Traders pointed out a number of reasons for non-availability of vegetables and fruits at reasonable rates in the city. One of the main reasons was the absence of any producing areas of vegetables and fruits in Karachi.

Green peas of Malir is perhaps the only seasonal crop for which people wait and ignore Punjab’s and Swat peas. Malir pea excels with up-country products because of its sweet taste.

Trading in green vegetables usually gets under way at midnight while auction of dry vegetables like onion and potato kicks off from Fajr prayers.

Only retailers who throng the market in large numbers take part in vegetable auctions which go on till Fajr, while fruit auction takes place early in the morning.

Wholesalers say at least three to four more vegetable markets must be set up in city

Sub-wholesalers situated inside the Mandi also participate in vegetable auctions and main buyers are the general public while some pushcart owners and retailers of fruits and vegetables also lift the quantities.

The wholesalers inside the Mandi charge Rs20 per kg for the new variety of onion from Sindh while consumers lift it at Rs40 per kg.

New Punjab potato is available at Rs30-35 per kg but consumers are paying Rs40-50 per kg in various markets.

Wholesalers examine their merchandise that came from up-country at Subzi Mandi on Superhighway.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Wholesalers examine their merchandise that came from up-country at Subzi Mandi on Superhighway.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Transportation cost

“Wholesalers operate at a very low profit than retailers,” wholesaler Shahabuddin said, adding that consumers can get vegetables at low rates if transportation cost comes down.

President of Falahai Anjuman Wholesale Market Shahjehan said the auction rate of vegetables is Rs5 per kg lower than the price being charged by the wholesalers in the Mandi.

He said one of the main cost push factors was transportation cost. A truck from Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan cost over Rs50,000 against Rs35,000-40,000 two years ago.

Shahjehan said there must be some limit of profit making.

Traders cannot violate the profit limit like retailers as they directly procure vegetables from the growers and can charge up to 20 per cent profit — 10pc wastage and 10pc profit, he said.

He said the vegetable market receives 500-600 people daily mostly from nearby areas, while on the weekend the number did not exceed 2,000 people.

“The city must have at least three to four more Sabzi Mandis. A wholesale Mandi is being constructed at Ghagar Pathak,” he said, adding that fruit/vegetable plazas should be constructed in various areas.

President of Karachi Wholesale Fruits Merchants and Commission Agents Association Mohammad Zahid Awan said the daily arrival of household customers in the Mandi is negligible, while on Saturdays and Sundays, the number ranged between 600-700 persons.

He said transporters charged Rs50,000-60,000 for bringing 500-600 wooden boxes of fruits from the up-country against Rs32,000-35,000 one and a half years ago.

He said the auction price of fruits is cheaper by Rs50-150 per carton as compared to sub-wholesale rate at the Mandi.

Afzal Khan of the Karachi Wholesale Fruits Merchants and Commission Agents Association said good quality Qandhari pomegranate (two-layer variety) was available at Rs333 per kg or Rs4,000 per 12kg it was sold between Rs450-500 per kg in retail.

The three-layer Qandhari pomegranate costs Rs200 per kg or Rs2,500-2,600 per 13kg in the Mandi and it is priced at Rs350-400 per kg in retail market.

Good quality guava is available at Rs80-90 per kg but it is sold at Rs200-300 per kg in retail market.

Wholesale price of orange (Mosambi) from Punjab is Rs100 per dozen but the retailers sell it at Rs300.

Sindh’s banana is selling at Rs50-80 per dozen but retailers are charging Rs80-150 per dozen.

The Commissioner of Karachi has been issuing price lists of various items but for the last over one week, his office’s website does not open carrying the message “the service is unavailable”.

The local government has stopped issuing price lists for the last two years.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2021



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