KARACHI: After low-quality cooking oil, bakery and confectionery items, cheap smuggled Iranian dairy products have found a place on the retailers’ shelves in low-end markets across the country.

Consumers may be benefiting from these low-cost Iranian goods, but the local manufacturers are highly irked over the rising presence of smuggled goods.

“The smuggled Iranian dairy products have been visible in retail stores of Karachi, Sukkur, Islamabad, Lahore, Sargodha, Peshawar and Jhelum in the last six months,” CEO Pakistan Dairy Association (PDA) Dr Shehzad Amin told Dawn on Saturday.

“Further penetration of these products in the markets can be controlled through strict border monitoring,” he said.

The dairy products including UHT dairy cream, liquid milk, flavoured milk, etc are priced lower than locally produced products, he said.

Giving an example, he said a locally made high-quality dairy cream costs Rs140 (200ML) whereas its Iranian counterpart is selling at Rs100-110.

Locally made liquid milk is available at Rs160 per litre while the smuggled product can be purchased at Rs100-115. Smuggled flavoured milk is 18-20 per cent cheaper than the locally made product selling at Rs50-70 (small pack), he claimed.

He said the PDA had informed the Punjab Food Authority and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Member Customs (Policy) that the influx of smuggled products are not only causing revenue losses but are a clear violation of labellling requirements of SRO237 as well as applicable quality and nutrition standards of the provincial and federal food authorities.

“We are trying to meet the FBR member customs policy next week to discuss the illegal arrival of dairy products from Iran,” he said.

Despite legal requirements to check imported processed food products as per the existing standards for the above-mentioned dairy products, this unregulated and non-compliant arrival can cause serious health hazards for the consumers, warned Dr Amin.

Moreover, the PDA has also raised several other issues in the illegal arrival of dairy products like design infringement, labelling anomalies, import irregularities, food safety risk and violation of SRO237.

The government needs to ensure compliance of imported dairy products as per applicable standards on a par with locally regulated dairy products, he said, adding that the Iranian dairy cream is missing halal certification, address of the importer, the ingredient and nutritional information in Urdu language, and importers’ name and address.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2022

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