KARACHI: Wheat prices scaled a new peak of Rs6,800 per 100kg bag in the open market against Rs6,200 in the last week as a result the rates of various varieties of flour have gone up by Rs6 a kg.

The new rate of flour no. 2.5 is Rs73 per kg followed by fine flour at Rs75-76 and chakki flour at Rs80-81, said Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association (KWGA) chairman Rauf Ibrahim. He said wheat is arriving in the open market from Punjab and interior Sindh.

“Millers are dependent to grind open market grain with the government’s wheat which is available at Rs4,875 per 100 kg bag. It means that millers are making heaps of profit while mixing subsidised wheat with costly open market wheat,” Rauf said.

He claimed that wheat is also being smuggled to Afghanistan via Balochistan.

In the retail markets, some retailers are charging Rs430-440 for 5kg Bake Parlour and Ashrafi fine flour bags as compared to Rs420 while the 10kg bag is selling at Rs840-850 as compared to Rs820-830. Chakki flour is being sold at Rs90 per kg.

Consumers paying Rs6 a kg more for flour

Karachi Retail Grocers Group General Secretary Mohammad Farid Qureishi said the retail markets had initially witnessed a price jump of Rs2 to Rs3 per kg in the two days in various varieties of flours.

Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) central chairman Mohammad Yousuf Chaudhry said the daily grinding requirement of wheat for Karachi flour mills is 225,000 tonnes but millers are getting 100,000 tonnes per day. As a result, the millers are bound to blend costly open market wheat with the government’s wheat to avoid a shortage of flour in the markets.

He said the Sindh government had procured 1.2 million tonnes of wheat from the growers in the current season but it is hard to tell how much quantity the provincial government now holds.

When asked why flour prices have gone up despite imports of wheat, he said imported wheat is mainly brought to ensure flour availability in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, utility stores etc.

Yousuf did not agree with the reports regarding higher flour and wheat prices in Sindh as compared to other provinces, terming it as a political statement. He said wheat and flour prices had been under pressure in the entire country for the last few months.

He also rejected the market reports that wheat is being smuggled to Afghanistan.

According to data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), wheat imports in IHFY22 came down to 1.361m tonnes valuing $470m as compared to 2.5m tonnes worth $661m in the same period last fiscal year.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2022

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