Households brace for tough Ramazan

Published March 23, 2023
BESAN (chickpea flour), a Ramazan-related hot item, is selling at Rs250-320 per kg against Rs150-200 last year.—AFP/file
BESAN (chickpea flour), a Ramazan-related hot item, is selling at Rs250-320 per kg against Rs150-200 last year.—AFP/file

KARACHI: Amid unprecedented inflation and stagnating incomes, Pakistanis are all set to experience the toughest Ramazan ever as families will have to limit their purchases, especially food items, due to affordability issues.

Households with static incomes or enduring a drastic cut in salaries for the last four years by employers will be in hot waters as meeting kitchen expenses in the holy month would be impossible amid skyrocketing prices.

A large number of families whose bread earners have been rendered jobless due to an economic slowdown will be facing a serious challenge to arranging Iftari and Sehri for their dependents and would have to compromise their dignity by requesting for loans from their kith and kin or opting welfare organisations.

Massive increases in electricity and gas rates have further multiplied consumers’ woes.

Price comparison based on the data of the Sensitive Price Index (SPI) during the first week of Ramazan in April 2022 to a day ahead of this holy month, consumers remained in distress especially in procuring average quality wheat flour. A 20kg flour bag price has surged to Rs1,295-3,100 in various parts of the country versus Rs800-1,500 per bag last Ramazan. Five- and 10kg branded fine flour bags are now available at Rs820-870 and Rs1,600, showing a rise of 80-90pc over the last year.

Flour no. 2.5 and fine variety were available at Rs65-67 and Rs70-75 per kg which are now tagged at Rs140 and Rs150-160 per kg, respectively.

After price stability in the last week, onion sells at Rs100-200 as compared to Rs40-80 per kg last Ramazan. Consumers are now using Sindh crop as growers made hectic efforts to re-cultivate the crop.

The government had allowed imports to bridge the supply gap following the flood devastation of crops in Sindh and Balochistan in August last year.

Gram Pulse (Daal Channa) rate climbed to Rs220-320 from Rs148-200 per kg. Masoor, Moong and Mash rates surged to Rs240-330, Rs250-350 and Rs280-480 per kg from Rs190-240, Rs116-220 and Rs200-310 per kg since the last Ramazan.

As per SPI data, one kg ghee pouch of Dalda rose to Rs570-638 from Rs399-484. Five-litre Dalda cooking oil rate went up to Rs3,000-3,510 from Rs2,060-2,485. However, many retailers are demanding Rs650-670 for branded cooking oil and ghee.

Fresh milk, meat and greens

Fresh milk rates in various cities now hover between Rs120-210 per litre as compared to Rs90-150 a year back. One kg live poultry bird rate ranges between Rs360-550 per kg versus Rs240-350.

Mutton and beef with bones are now available at Rs1,100-1,800 and Rs500-900 as compared to Rs1,050-1,500 and Rs350-750 per kg. In Karachi, mutton retailers, who were charging Rs1,600 per kg two weeks back, are now demanding Rs1,800. Beef without bones is being sold at Rs1,000 per kg.

Potato rate crawled up to Rs40-100 per kg from Rs25-60 per kg. Sugar price increased to Rs100-110 from Rs83-95.

High-quality basmati rice sells between Rs300-500 per kg now as compared to Rs150-300 per kg last year.

Average quality basmati is now priced at Rs150-240 as compared to Rs80-140 per kg while Irri 6/9 (Sindh/Punjab) carries a price tag of Rs80-180 per kg as against Rs60-100.

White gram (white channa) sells between Rs400-450 per kg versus Rs250 last year, while black gram (kaala channa) is now available at Rs220-260 per kg in different sizes as against Rs120-150 last year.

Vermicelli and salt pack prices are almost double than last year. Lipton tea pack (less than 250 grams) now sells at Rs413-558 as compared to Rs250-260.

Impressive sales

Despite high inflation, external challenges and floods, the sales of Nestle Pakistan grew by a robust 22pc to Rs162bn during 2022 from Rs133bn in 2021. Its profit after tax soared to Rs15bn from Rs12.7bn, up by 18pc.

After investing Rs3.4bn in 2022, the consumer products giant has planned to invest Rs3bn during 2023 in operational reliability to meet consumer demand.

Sales of Friesland Campina Engro Pakistan Limited surged to Rs 73bn in 2022 from Rs 52bn in 2021, while profit after tax during 2022 swelled to Rs 2.46bn from Rs 1.8bn.

Unilever Pakistan Foods Ltd posted impressive sales of Rs28bn in 2022 as compared to Rs19.8bn in 2021, while profit after tax swelled to Rs8bn from Rs 5.16bn in 2021.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2023

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